Blow for Change UK as candidate forced to quit over 'Romanian pickpockets' remark
A European election candidate for Change UK has been forced to quit over comments he made in the past about "Romanian pickpockets".
In a major blow for the fledgling party, the remarks by Ali Sadjady were unearthed on the same day they launched their election campaign.
Writing on Twitter in 2017, the former Conservative, who had been due to stand as a candidate in London at next month's election, said: "When I hear that 70% of pick pockets caught on the London Underground are Romanian it kind makes me want Brexit."
In another tweet in the wake of the EU referendum in 2016, Mr Sadjady said: "Brexit is like dumping your girlfriend because she’s expensive and high maintenance and then realizing she’s pretty hot.”
A tweet from October last year also appeared to put him at odds with his new party, which backs a second referendum.
He said: "Democracy was served – I voted Remain but stand by the vote cast because I believe in democracy."
Green MEP Molly Scott Catto condemned Mr Sadjady over the pickpockets tweet. She said: "I’m shocked to read this negative stereotyping of EU citizens. It’s the job of Remain politicians to defend them against the hate speech and acts that have been on the rise since the EU referendum – not to join in."
A spokesperson for Change UK said: "Following discussions, Ali Sadjady has reflected on his inappropriate tweet from 2017 and agreed to stand down from the list of potential candidates."
It is not the first race row to hit the party since it was initially formed as The Independent Group in February following the defection of 11 Labour and Tory MPs.
On the day it was launched, former Labour backbencher Angela Smith was forced to apologise after she said during a live TV discussion: "It’s not just about being black or a funny tinge…you know a different, from the BME community.”
In a statement afterwards, the Penistone MP said: "I have seen the clip from Politics Live. I am very sorry about any offence caused, and I am very upset that I misspoke so badly. It is not what I am, and I am committed to fighting racism wherever I find it in our society.”