UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage says he will not expel UKIP members for voicing “old-fashioned” views about homosexuality, including those who describe it as “disgusting”.

Mr Farage told BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show: “That is an old-fashioned view that you would hear in private bridge clubs and golf clubs and probably British Legion clubs up and down the length and breadth of the country.

“If you are suggesting that we should become so politically correct that we should kick out anyone who holds a slightly old-fashioned view, frankly that would be the death of debate in politics in Britain.”

The MEP for the South East of England accused the government of “picking a war with middle England” over same-sex marriage but said UKIP MEP Roger Helmer had gone “too far” by linking equal marriage with incest.

Mr Farage said: “The point he was making is if we change the definition of marriage, nobody knows where it will end up.

“We are about to redefine marriage – something that has been a fundamental staple of our society for very many centuries.

“The 1950s world where homosexuals could be sent to prison has ended. We now have civil partnerships.

“What the government is now doing is picking a war with middle England on something that wasn’t in their manifesto and frankly there isn’t much demand for.”

Alan Jesson, the UKIP councillor for Spalding South, yesterday became the latest member to face allegations of homophobia, reportedly claiming on Facebook that gay people are “heterophobic”.

Earlier this month, Nigel Farage surprised political commentators when he said Margaret Thatcher’s “open-mindedness” was responsible for today’s gay tolerance in British society.

Speaking to the Telegraph, the UKIP leader praised former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died last month aged 87, for today’s progressive “atmosphere to gay people in Britain,” saying: “I have to say that Margaret Thatcher of course helped enormously with her open-mindedness.”

When reminded of her support for Section 28, which previously banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools, Mr Farage said: “That was done because she feared some of the very, very extreme left-wing elements within the teaching union – but Margaret Thatcher, her period as our prime minister was one I think of real advancement for gay people in society they were not discriminated against the way they had been by nearly every prime minister before.”