BEATEN: UKIP leader Nigel Farage
UKIP LEADER Nigel Farage said he felt an “enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders” after failing to gain the seat of Thanet South to the Conservatives.
All eyes are now fixed firmly on the party leader after announced he would resign if he was unsuccessful in the coastal Kent constituency.
Asked before the declaration on Friday morning (May 8) if he was going to resign, he replied: “Are you calling me a liar? I have never broken my word yet.”
Speaking after the results were announced, Farage said he was “professionally disappointed” but personally relived after losing to Craig Mackinlay.
Mackinlay, a one-time member of UKIP who held a senior position in the party before coming back to the Conservatives, secured 18,848 votes compared to Farage’s 16,026.
Ukip has suffered a frustrating election after gaining about 12 per cent of the national vote but only one MP.
Farage spent much of his campaign denying his right-wing party were not racist following series of racist gaffes by members and candidates.
The anti-immigration party, which wants Britain to leave the EU, came under fire for various comments made in relation to race, such as telling comedian Lenny Henry to leave the UK and live in a “black country” and calling Nigerians “bad people”.
The series of gaffes have overshadowed UKIP’s publicity drive to present itself as an acceptable, modern party without racist elements.
However, the various controversial social media and online remarks have led some to label UKIP as racist and xenophobic.
Farage told activists that those comments came from only a “handful” of thousands of UKIP candidates and that their views do not truly represent the party.
He said: “There will always be in any system a few people that creep over the line and cause us embarrassment.”
Farage went on to attack the British press for picking up the comments and claimed they were doing so to help the mainstream parties, and said the views “have been lifted up and presented to the Great British public as if they represent the view of this party, which they do not”.
He added: “I don't care if you disagree with us, I don't care if you think we're better off being governed by [David] Cameron, [Nick] Clegg or [Ed] Miliband, I don't care if you think uncontrolled immigration is good for Britain, I don't care if you criticise us for wanting to be a free independent country, and not under that flag, anthem and preposterous president whose name no one knows.
“I don't care what you call us. You can call us right-wing, left-wing, you can call us small minded - I don't care what you call us.
“But from this moment on please do not ever call us a racist party. We are not a racist party.”
A number of UKIP candidates were suspended for comments made about ethnicity and the party said it investigates any remarks that fall foul of its values regarding race.