Henry Bolton: It was worth losing UKIP job to be with lover Jo Marney

22 February 2018, 10:52

Former UKIP leader Henry Bolton has said his relationship with a former model who sent racist messages is worth losing his job over.

The married 54-year-old confirmed earlier this week that he was back with 25-year-old Jo Marney, who was revealed to have sent offensive messages about Prince Harry's fiancee Meghan Markle.

She was suspended by the party and later resigned after it emerged she had said Ms Markle had a "tiny brain" and would "taint" the Royal Family.

Speaking during a joint appearance on ITV's This Morning, Mr Bolton accused figures within UKIP of "exploiting" his relationship with Ms Marney to get rid of him.

When asked if their relationship was worth losing his job over, Mr Bolton, who on Thursday resigned from the party, replied: "Yes."

Ms Marney admitted her comments about Prince Harry's future wife were "disgusting", adding the private comments were "meant to shock" and "never intended to be put in the public domain".

She was also challenged about her description of Grenfell Tower as a "nest of illegal immigrants".

Ms Marney acknowledged it was a "shocking" thing to say, but said she "didn't mean to cause offence" and claimed the comment was meant to raise a broader point about immigration in Britain.

The pair "absolutely" denied suggestions they were "private racists".

Mr Bolton said: "Of course not ... I absolutely do not believe that these comments reflect Jo's core beliefs. They are appalling language.

"Jo has apologised in public and to the party. She's resigned from the party. I'm not sure what else she can do."

He said it was "common and quite normal" for social media conversations to include "the most appalling things" which people would never say offline.

During the interview, Mr Bolton was read a statement from his wife Tatiana, who accused him of "abandoning" her and their children and describing the aftermath of their break-up in December as "horrendous".

"Rather than trying to protect the privacy of people whom he hurt so badly, my still-husband has given countless interviews proclaiming his feelings for his lover whilst still being legally married and up until very recently saying at the same time to me that he wants our family to have a second chance," she claimed.

Mr Bolton acknowledged he had "brought about a situation that has caused people a lot of hurt and distress", adding he was "very sorry for that".

A message on UKIP's official Twitter feed confirmed Mr Bolton's departure: "Henry Bolton has tendered his resignation from Ukip. We wish him well in whatever it is that he chooses to do next."

Mr Bolton responded: "Watch this space."

The furore over Mr Bolton and Ms Marney's relationship precipitated a string of resignations and a vote of no confidence in Mr Bolton, which he decisively lost last weekend.

Ahead of that fateful vote, Mr Bolton told Sky News the media scrutiny of his personal life was comparable to that experienced by the late Princess Diana.

Speaking to BBC Radio Kent earlier this week, Mr Bolton said he "desperately" needed a holiday following the bitter dispute over his five-month leadership.

Although he predicted a "great many" more resignations from UKIP "across the country" in the next two weeks, he claimed it is "a bit zero-sum" to claim the party is finished.

"UKIP won't disappear but it's already moving significantly to the right," he said.

In the interview Mr Bolton had suggested he could either fight on within UKIP or even start his own party, following his sacking.

London MEP Gerard Batten has replaced him as interim leader.