Ukip MP Douglas Carswell has risked the wrath of his party leader by branding the comments made by Nigel Farage about immigrants coming to Britain for free treatment for HIV as “plain wrong”.
MP for Clacton Mr Carswell, who is Ukip’s only representative in the Commons after Mr Farage failed in his bid to win South Thanet from the Conservatives, also described the remarks as “mean-spirited”.
Asked if he had settled his differences with Mr Farage, Mr Carswell told BBC Radio 5 live’s Pienaar’s Politics: “He has always been the leader of Ukip and I’ve never, never questioned that at all.
“But I think it’s really, really, really, really important, really important that any party that didn’t do as well as it wanted to do asks awkward questions of itself.
“I think some of the tone that we deployed – for example the comments about HIV I think were plain wrong. Wrong at so many levels. Not just wrong because they were electorally unhelpful but just wrong because they were wrong.”
Mr Carswell warned Ukip needed to “always remember” that there was “something fundamentally generous” about Britain.
He said: “Some of the things we said ....There’s something wonderfully generous about this country and there’s something wonderfully good and right about this country and if we frame debates that are mean-spirited I think a lot of people in this country will be put off.
“Yes, there’s a really important case to be made about restricting people’s right to come here and take advantage of our health service and we need to make sure it is not an international health service, but there’s also something fundamentally generous about this country and I think we should always remember that.”
Earlier this month, Ukip’s only MP dismissed suggestions he wanted the top job, but argued the party should not take “big decisions” about the leadership in the immediate aftermath of a tough election battle.
He criticised Mr Farage’s “ill advised” decision to raise concerns about immigrants coming to Britain for free treatment for HIV, saying Ukip had not been striking the right “tone”.