‘His dad is on his deathbed’: Richard Tice defends Reform UK spokesperson after candidate’s Hitler comments

11 June 2024, 10:51 | Updated: 11 June 2024, 11:16

Richard Tice has defended comments made by a Reform UK spokesperson after it was revealed a candidate had said the UK would have been "far better" if it had "taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality" instead of fighting the Nazis in World War Two.
Richard Tice has defended comments made by a Reform UK spokesperson after it was revealed a candidate had said the UK would have been "far better" if it had "taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality" instead of fighting the Nazis in World War Two. Picture: Alamy

By Lauren Lewis

Richard Tice has defended comments made by a Reform UK spokesperson after it was revealed a candidate had said the UK would have been "far better" if it had "taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality" instead of fighting the Nazis in World War Two.

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The comments were made by Ian Gribbin, the Reform UK candidate in Bexhill and Battle, on the Unherd magazine website in 2022, the BBC reported.

Reform's spokesperson told the BBC the comments were "arguing points in long distance debates" rather than endorsements.

The spokesperson added that the views on Hitler's offer were “shared by the vast majority of the British establishment including the BBC of its day, and is probably true”.

Reform UK party chairman Tice defended the spokesperson, saying that they "misspoke".

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Tice said: “[The spokesperson’s] Dad is on his deathbed and he misspoke under intense personal pressure.

“Perhaps Westminster should focus on our economic policy to save taxpayers tens of billions [and] stop enriching the banks instead of juvenile gotcha identity politics.”

Reform UK party chairman Richard Tice defended the spokesperson on X (formerly Twitter).
Reform UK party chairman Richard Tice defended the spokesperson on X (formerly Twitter). Picture: X/Twitter

Read more: 'It was about taxing motorists': Transport Sec hits out at Sadiq Khan over Ulez expansion as Tories vow to scrap it

Gribbin had also written on Unherd in 2022 that the women were the "sponging gender" and should be "deprived of health care".

He added that Britain needed to “exorcise the cult of Churchill and recognise that in both policy and military strategy, he was abysmal” while lavishing praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Gribbin initially declined to comment, but later said: “I apologise for these old comments and withdraw them unreservedly and the upset that they have caused.”

He added that he had been “upset at the way these comments were taken out of context especially when my mother was the daughter of Russian Jews fleeing persecution.”

Asked about the comments on Monday, party chairman Tice said: "We're really pleased with all candidates.

"When people do inappropriate things, say daft things then of course we'll look at it and investigate it and that's what we do."

Read more: Tax breaks for landlords and NI cuts top Tory manifesto pledges as Rishi targets homebuyers

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage was also asked about the comments on Monday and said: "They've got a bigger problem in the Green Party.
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage was also asked about the comments on Monday and said: "They've got a bigger problem in the Green Party. Picture: Alamy

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage was also asked about the comments on Monday and said: "They've got a bigger problem in the Green Party.

"They've had to suspend 20 of their candidates for putting out pretty vile antisemitic tweets.

"Here's something, I think every party will suffer because it was a snap election. We've put in place a good vetting programme, but we've run out of time."

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