Ukip has sought to distance itself from comments made by its Rochester & Strood candidate Mark Reckless, after he suggested certain European migrants could be asked to leave Britain if the party came to power.
Speaking yesterday at a hustings with other Rochester & Strood by-election candidates, Reckless said a Ukip government would have to implement a short-term “transitional period” allowing “people who are currently here to have a work permit at least for a fixed period”.
The suggestion that migrants would be sent back to their country of origin sparked outrage from Rochester & Strood's Labour candidate Naushabah Khan. “Where would you stop Mark? My family are migrants, are we going to say they need to go back as well?,” she said.
But it wasn't only Khan who bristled at the comments – Ukip itself has issued a statement clarifying its position.
A Ukip spokesman said: “We need to sort out our borders, and we cannot do so whilst we remain in the European Union. Those who are in this country lawfully, such as those from EU nations would have the right to remain. Those who are here illegally would have to apply for work permits.”
They added: "It is absolutely not our policy to round up EU migrants and put them on a boat at Dover and send them back to wherever they came from.”
UKIP’s position on migration is the only honest policy out there. To control all issues surrounding migration we would have to leave the EU— UKIP (@UKIP) November 18, 2014
With just one day to go until the by-election, this is the sort of thing that most parties would be spooked by – but all the polls and bookies suggest Reckless will be a clear winner.
And it's not as if Ukip is unused to gaffes. Here are four of the most recent:
Earlier this year Councillor Donna Edmunds said businesses should be allowed to refuse services to women and gay people.
Presumably a view shared by Councillor David Silvester, who blamed the storms and floods affecting the UK on gay marriage laws. He was later suspended by the party.
Godfrey Bloom – also no longer with the party – was the master of the gaffe. Not content with saying aid was being sent to “bongo bongo land” he also called a room full of women “sluts” and then hit Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick around the head with a rolled up party brochure.
Even Nigel Farage has had his own foot-in-mouth occasions, not least the gotcha moment from the BBC's Nick Robinson when he wanted an explanation over why Farage had employed his German wife over other British candidates.