Ukip suspends gay rant councillor

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Ukip leader Nigel Farage has pledged a clearout of the 'barmy' element in his party Ukip leader Nigel Farage has pledged a clearout of the 'barmy' element in his party

The UK Independence Party has suspended a councillor who claimed recent floods were the result of the Government's decision to legalise gay marriage.

David Silvester claimed the country had been "beset by storms" since the passage of the new law on gay marriage because David Cameron had acted "arrogantly against the Gospel".

He was suspended by the party after defying a request not to do further interviews on his beliefs following his initial claims made in a letter to a local newspaper.

The move came as leader Nigel Farage launched a clearout of "extremist, nasty or barmy" views from the party ahead of polls in May.

Henley-on-Thames councillor Mr Silvester said he had warned the Prime Minister of "repercussions" if gay marriage had gone ahead and told BBC Radio Berkshire his daily prayers convinced him the recent flooding was the consequence.

He said the new law, paving the way for the first gay marriages in Britain this spring, was the latest mistake which would anger God - following on from abortion laws, which he likened to the Holocaust.

In the radio interview, which followed his initial claims about the link between flooding and gay marriage in a letter to the Henley Standard, Mr Silvester said: "I don't have a problem with gay people.

"I believe as a Christian I should love gay people and indeed, I do. My prayer for them is they will be healed."

Mr Silvester said he was convinced that there were "repercussions for a nation persisting in what is wrong", and that he had clear beliefs "there are things that are right and wrong".

"Over the years we have done many things that have caused problems," he said.

"One, for example, is the abortion laws in which something like six million children, as many as the people killed by the Nazis in the death camps, have been killed as a result of the abortion laws.

"Now, this is a process. The latest in this process is these homosexual laws and the homosexual marriage."

The councillor said Ukip, to whom he defected from the Conservative Party, had told him not to give any more interviews.

The party, which initially supported him after his letter to the Henley Standard, has now used emergency powers to suspend him.

Ukip's south east chairman Roger Bird said: "We cannot have any individual using the Ukip banner to promote their controversial personal beliefs which are not shared by the party.

"Everyone is entitled to their own religious ideology which is central to a free and fair society. Councillor Silvester's views are his own and in no way reflect the party's position. Indeed Councillor Silvester himself has clearly stated this.

"However, Councillor Silvester has today acted contrary to party requests and continued to court the media in order to promote his own personal beliefs.

"This has caused significant offence to many people and goes against the core principles of Ukip. It is not fair on the many thousands of hard working members of Ukip to have one person take attention away from their efforts and successes by promoting their own controversial views despite being requested not to do so."

In an interview with the Sun on Sunday, Mr Farage said new criteria to assess the performance of his party's 13 members of the European Parliament had led to changes which meant five were not standing in the May contest.

"Some have been pushed and some have jumped," he said.

All 1,818 candidates running in elections for the eurosceptic party are being vetted, Mr Farage said, while insisting that "of all the candidates we fielded, only about half a dozen have caused us any embarrassment".

Mr Farage insisted the reason his political opponents' focus on problem candidates is because "we are terrifying the political establishment".

He said: "We've got the potential to cause an earthquake in British politics. Tremors are afoot.

"If Ukip was to win the Euro elections by a margin, the ramifications on the other party leaders would be enormous.

"The Lib Dems are on the cusp of being wiped out. If that happens, what future has Clegg got?

"If the Tories have a miserable time, as the polls suggest, the pressure to get 46 signatures to challenge Cameron for the leadership will be strong.

"Miliband wants to present Labour as the party that will win the next election - an event that could be dented."

Business Minister Michael Fallon dismissed Ukip as a "protest party" and said there are still "one or two fruitcakes" in it.

His comments echoed David Cameron's claim that Ukip was made up of '''fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists''.

More recently however, senior Conservatives have avoided that sort of language for fear of alienating Tory voters disillusioned with the coalition and attracted by Ukip's policies on the EU and immigration.

Mr Fallon told BBC1's Sunday Politics: "T hey are the only big protest party at the moment and protest parties obviously hoover up a lot of votes and that's why we've got to be very clear now in our European message that we're the only party that can reform Europe and give people a proper choice. The first referendum for over 40 years."

In response to Andrew Neil asking whether the Tories were "glad to see the back of" Mr Silvester after his defection to Ukip, Mr Fallon said: "There clearly are one or two fruitcakes still left around there."

Responding to the suspension Mr Silvester told the BBC: "I knew there might be a reaction but sometimes when truth is involved you have to stand on the side of truth and if people don't like it well, then, that's tough."

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