Former Ukip leader appears on TV with girlfriend as he quits the party

Former Ukip leader Henry Bolton has resigned from the party, days after being ousted from the top job by a members' vote.

The announcement from Ukip came as Mr Bolton appeared on TV alongside girlfriend Jo Marney, whose racist text messages sparked the furore which led to his removal as leader last weekend after just five months in the role.

Appearing on ITV1's This Morning, 54-year-old Mr Bolton was confronted with a message from his wife Tatiana, who said she and their children had been "abandoned and quickly forgotten".

Former model Ms Marney, 25, admitted that text messages in which she said that Meghan Markle's mixed-race background would "taint" the royal family were "disgusting", though she stressed they were intended to be private.

"It doesn't sound very nice, no," she told presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.

"Meghan Markle, my comments about her were disgusting ... The things that I said were meant to shock and they don't reflect my real views. I didn't mean to cause any hurt or to spread hatred."

Mr Bolton denied the couple were "private racists", telling Schofield: "Of course not ... I absolutely do not believe that these comments reflect Jo's core beliefs. They are appalling language.

"Jo has apologised in public and to the party. She's resigned from the party. I'm not sure what else she can do."

Mr Bolton said it was "common and quite normal" for interactions on social media to include "the most appalling things" which people would never say face to face.

Ms Marney later took to Twitter to complain that it was "almost as judgmental as being racist" for her to be branded "not nice" on the basis of a few text messages.

Schofield read out a message from Mr Bolton's wife, in which she said she had been through a "horrendous" period since her husband left her shortly before Christmas and began his relationship with Ms Marney.

"Rather than trying to protect the privacy of people he hurt so badly, my still-husband has given countless interviews proclaiming his feelings for his lover, while still being legally married," said Mrs Smurova-Bolton in her statement

"I've supported my husband through the 11 years of us being together in good times but also bad when we had no job or money.

"Now, me and my family have been abandoned and quickly forgotten. He hasn't found the time to visit his children, who haven't seen him for two months.

"If, for whatever reason, he felt he wanted to finish our relationship, he should have done it in a civilised manner and discussed it with me, especially the way forward for our children who are still very young and still affected by it all."

Mr Bolton said he missed his children "terribly", adding: "This whole thing has been aggravated by other people. But of course, I have brought about a situation that has caused a lot of people hurt and distress.

"These things happen. There are two sides to every story. Those matters should be matters we can sort out between us."

Henry Bolton has tendered his resignation from UKIP. We wish him well in whatever it is that he chooses to do next.

-- UKIP (@UKIP) February 22, 2018

In a message on the official Ukip Twitter feed, the party said: "Henry Bolton has tendered his resignation from Ukip. We wish him well in whatever it is that he chooses to do next."

The former leader responded: "Watch this space."

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