UKIP seemed to have found itself in a bit of a pickle this week, as an apparent breakdown in internal communication led to seemingly unapproved words from Nigel Farage being sent out to the media.
Mr Farage appeared to U-turn again on same-sex marriage, as he has denied that answers to a PinkNews Q&A attributed to him by an official UKIP spokesman were actually his words.
Among Mr Farage’s apparent responses to a readers’ Q&A sent to PinkNews by Mr Farage’s official spokesperson yesterday, was the assertion that he would not campaign to abolish same-sex marriages, and that he would seek the augmentation of civil marriage and civil partnerships, with religious ceremonies as optional.
In a statement on the UKIP website today, Mr Farage said: “The statement attributed to me yesterday was not made by me and not approved by me. It was a draft by a staff member that should never have been sent out.
On the release of the answers to the mainstream media, a spokesperson was also contacted directly by the Press Association and asked to confirm details and send full quotes, which they did.
The spokesperson today told PinkNews that the answers to the Q&A were completed by the UKIP press office, and that it had been assumed that Mr Farage had cleared them for release, which the UKIP leader now denies.
PinkNews founder Benjamin Cohen said: “Nigel Farage’s answers to PinkNews reader questions were provided to us by his official spokesperson. The responses were even sent by this spokesperson to external media who requested it after PinkNews first published the feature. I note though that in his statement today, Mr Farage does not comment on whether he will be campaigning to take away the marriages of gay couples at the next election.”
In today’s statement on the party’s website, Mr Farage continued: “UKIP’s objection to same sex marriage was two-fold. First, we did not think it should have been made a political priority at a time of many other pressing issues and pointed out that the measure had no mandate from the electorate.
“Secondly we were concerned that because of the role of the European Court of Human Rights in British law that faith communities which had strong objections were at risk of being forced to conduct gay marriages.
“There is an ongoing debate within UKIP about how we can protect faith communities from ultimately being compelled to conduct same sex marriages against their beliefs and their will. We note that some gay rights activists are already talking about taking legal action in Strasbourg to force this issue.”
Some have questioned why this sudden change of position came the day before the budget was to be announced, asking whether it was a tactic to avoid media attention.
Sceptical politicians from the Conservative Party and Lib Dems yesterday may have been proven right in questioning the motives of the Q&A answers attributed to Mr Farage, as Tory vice chair Michael Fabricant, Tory MP Mike Freer and Lib Dem peer all questioned the motives behind the answers.