British lawmaker quits party after calling colleagues ‘sluts’

Member of the European Parliament Godfrey Bloom at the UK Independence Party annual conference on Sept. 20. He resigned from the party on Tuesday. Luke Macgregor / Reuters

A controversial British lawmaker who joked that his own party’s female activists were “sluts” at a “women in politics” event has resigned.

Godfrey Bloom, a member of the European Parliament, used the word last week after being challenged over his 2004 claim that a woman’s place is cleaning behind the fridge.

The United Kingdom Independence Party politician told a fringe event at the party's annual conference last week: “This place is full of sluts.”

When confronted by reporters afterward, Bloom said it had been a joke and that some of those present, including women, had laughed at the remark. 

Bloom later tweeted that he had been "purposely outrageous."

But UKIP, whose policies are geared towards removing Britain from the European Union, subsequently suspended him from formal involvement in party business. He resigned on Tuesday.

"I have felt for some time now that the ‘New UKIP’ is not really right for me anymore," Bloom said in a statement. "May I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the thousands of people who have supported me with messages of good will in the recent months and particularly in recent days."

He will now sit as an independent MEP for the remaining 18 months of his five-year term. Bloom, 63, did not say whether he plans to contest his seat in future.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage told the BBC on Tuesday that he did not want to see his colleague "hounded out of the party."

He added: "All the things Godfrey has said have not been meant in malice but they have all been tremendous distractions from the main messages UKIP is trying to push out."

Farage last week insisted that Bloom was "not an extremist ... he's not anti-women."

On an anti-mass immigration platform, UKIP has increased its support to around 10 percent, according to pollsters YouGov. It took just three percent of the vote in the last national election in 2010.

However, UKIP secured nearly one in four of the votes cast at elections for local government jobs in May.

British Prime Minister David Cameron once described UKIP as being full of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" but the party is now trying to portray itself as more mainstream. 

Last month, Bloom also sparked controversy when he said foreign aid was being sent to “bongo bongo land.” 

Reuters contributed to this report.