LONDON — The UK Independence Party’s manifesto launch descended into chaos today when party MEPs and activists shouted down journalists for asking leader Paul Nuttall whether he was exploiting the Manchester attack.
UKIP MEP Earl Dartmouth yelled “what a stupid question” and “don’t you understand English?” at BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg while one activist told her to “go back down your hole” in a heated question and answer session.
Emotions were running high in Westminster on Thursday morning where UKIP leader Nuttall and his deputy Suzanne Evans launched the party’s general election manifesto.
UKIP is the first British political party to resume national campaign after a terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday evening killed 22 and left at least 59 more injured.
Nuttall and Evans announced a series of radical policies to combat Islamic extremism, including banning the burqa and Niqab in public, reinstating police stop and search powers and only accepting migrants who share “British values”.
The press conference quickly became heated when broadcast journalists Kuenssberg and Channel 4’s Michael Crick asked Nuttall whether he was exploiting the Manchester attack by holding a manifesto launch on Thursday morning.
“Ask a sensible question!” an activist shouted at Crick, while Kuenssberg was met with a chorus of furious remarks from a number of UKIP activists and elected representatives.
Watch: UKIP press conference descends into chaos.
Some UKIP figures including Nuttall and former political reporter turned UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn urged party members to stop heckling journalists, but to little effect. A question from the Guardian newspaper was met with “oh for fuck’s sake” by UKIP Brexit spokesman Gerard Batten.
The UKIP manifesto includes policies like reversing cuts to police, the army and border control; bringing net migration down to zero; abolishing the House of Lords; protecting the triple lock and winter fuel allowance, and holding Theresa May’s government to account of delivering a complete divorce from the European Union.
Evans said May’s decision to cut the number of police officers while she was Home Secretary meant she “must bear some responsibility” for the Manchester attack. She quickly rowed back on this, saying only the terrorists are to blame.
“I didn’t say she must bear some responsibility,” the UKIP deputy chairman said.
UKIP is without any MPS and a Business Insider/GfK opinion poll published last week put the party on 5% — a 7% drop since the last time GfK asked Brits who they intend to vote for in the next general election.
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