Ukip leader Henry Bolton still has strong affections for ex-girlfriend Jo Marney

Ukip's embattled leader has admitted he still has "strong affections" for his former girlfriend who sent racist messages about Meghan Markle.

The party's ruling national executive committee backed a motion of no confidence in Henry Bolton last month after it was revealed 25-year-old model Jo Marney had made highly offensive comments about Prince Harry's fiancee and black people.

Mr Bolton had previously said the romantic side of their relationship had ended, but the pair were pictured together just days after declaring the romance was over.

Asked by Andrew Marr on his BBC1 show if he was "still in love" with Ms Marney, the former army officer said: "There are strong affections there yes."

Mr Bolton told Marr the "general consensus" was that there was a "problem with my judgment around that whole episode".

However, he added: "But the point is that actually we are off, and we have been for a very long time, off the field in terms of the debate on leaving the European Union.

"What we should be doing is shaping the future of this country's independence, and that's what we should be focusing on, not whether or not somebody, way before I met them, actually sent private messages that actually had nothing to do with me and I had no means of knowing about."

Marr said Mr Bolton had described his relationship with Ms Marney as "on hold", and asked him: "It's no longer on hold, is it?"

Mr Bolton replied: "Well, if you'll excuse me Andrew, I think actually what the party's concerned about is unifying and projecting its politics.

"For a very long time now, for way before I became leader, all of the members have known that internal communications, the finances, the organisation of the party needed an overhaul."

Mr Bolton also suggested that Ms Marney's messages relating to Ms Markle had been "doctored", adding: "In the days to come there will be more evidence being presented as to how they were obtained."

Mr Bolton is facing a vote over his leadership at a special meeting of party members.

A number of senior figures quit their roles after he refused to stand down after the vote of no confidence in him by the party's ruling body.

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