By Kate WhannelPolitical reporter

Farage asked how he will handle racism within Reform UK

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has repeated his assertion that footage showing racist comments apparently made by one of his party’s activists was a “set-up”.

He faced angry questions from a BBC Question Time audience over a Channel 4 broadcast which showed Andrew Parker, a canvasser for Reform UK, using a racist term about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Mr Farage described the comments as a “tirade of invective abuse” but suggested the man may have been paid.

Challenged on other comments made by Reform UK candidates, Mr Farage said he “wouldn’t want anything” to do with them and said he had withdrawn his support.

Appearing ahead of Mr Farage on the same programme, Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay condemned Mr Parker’s comments as “horrific” and said it was “a stark reminder of the future we could be heading for if people back Reform at the election”.

Asked about comments made by some of his own candidates, he said concerns would be properly investigated.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Sunak said the comments in the Channel 4 footage hurt adding: “It makes me angry.”

He said his two daughters “have to see and hear Reform people who campaigned for Nigel Farage” using racist language against him.

He said Mr Farage had “some questions to answer”.

In addition to the slur directed at the prime minister, Mr Parker was also heard describing Islam as “the most disgusting cult out” and suggesting army recruits should carry out “target practice” by shooting at small boats bringing illegal migrants to the UK.

In a statement, Mr Parker said he wanted to “apologise profusely to Nigel Farage and the Reform Party if my personal views have reflected badly on them and brought them into disrepute as this was not my intention”.

Essex Police have said they are “urgently assessing” comments in the programme “to establish if there are any criminal offences”.

The subject came up as the first question on the Question Time Leaders’ Special when an audience member asked: “What is it about your party that attracts racists?”

Mr Farage argued that he had done more to drive out the far-right than any living person in British politics.

“I took on the BNP just over a decade ago. I said to their voters, if this is a protest vote but you don’t support their racist agenda, don’t vote for them, vote for me, destroyed them.”

He went on to reiterate claims he made earlier in the day that Mr Parker was an actor who had an alter ego and suggested it was “a political setup of astonishing proportions”.

“This was designed to hurt us, and sadly some people believe it.”

PA Adrian RamsayPA

Mr Parker was approached by the BBC about Mr Farage’s remarks but did not want to comment.

Channel 4 News said it stood by its “rigorous and duly impartial journalism” adding that it met Mr Parker for the first time at Reform UK party headquarters and had not paid him any money.

Mr Farage was subsequently asked about other comments made by Reform UK candidates including Edward Oakenfull who wrote offensive social media posts about the IQ of sub-Saharan Africans. Mr Oakenfull has told the BBC his comments had been “taken out of context”.

Mr Farage said he disowned the candidates in question adding: “I want nothing to do with them.”

“You get people in all parties saying bad things and wrong things,” he said, arguing it was partly the consequence of having to find candidates quickly following the PM’s surprise calling of a general election for July.

Parties can, and have, withdrawn support from their candidates during this election campaign but is too late to stop them appearing on the ballot paper.

Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay was also asked about comments made by some of his candidates in relation to the conflict in Gaza, including one who compared Hamas to French resistance fighters in World War Two.

Mr Ramsay said he didn’t support those views adding that any concerns would be “properly investigated through the right channels in the party” – saying that those channels were separate from the leadership.

“Sadly all parties have had candidates who were selected in this election who have no longer gone forward,” he said.

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