Reform says it is standing by candidate who said Britain should have stayed neutral in WW2

Ian Gribbin apologised on Monday for online posts he made in 2022 saying the UK would have benefited from accepting Hitler’s offer of neutrality


Gribbin apologised 'unreservedly' for the upset caused by his comment on the Second World War (Photo: Reform UK)

Reform UK have refused to drop a candidate who said Britain would be better off had it chosen not to fight Nazi Germany.

Ian Gribbin, who is standing in Bexhill and Battle, apologised on Monday for online posts he made in 2022 in which he claimed: "Britain would be in a far better state today had we taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality…. but oh no Britain’s warped mindset values weird notions of international morality rather than looking after its own people."

A party spokesman later claimed the remarks were “probably true”.

Speaking on Times Radio on Tuesday, Reform Deputy Leader Ben Habib said Gribbin’s comments had been looked into by Chair Richard Tice and other members of the party’s senior management, who decided they are “not worthy of any future action”.

Habib said: "One of the things I suppose should be obvious to anyone who has been in politics for more than five minutes, whatever you say in politics, people are looking for that ‘gotcha moment’ and this is a ‘gotcha moment’ that they think they’ve got Gribbon on.

"What I’d rather do is focus on what Reform UK stands for and not throwaway comments made by Gribbin in 2022.”

The comments should not be swept under the carpet, Habib said, but considered in view of the brief period Reform UK were given to select hundreds of candidates following Rishi Sunak’s surprise announcement of general election.

"There will be people in among everyone's candidates list, by the way, who have said controversial things,” he said, but insisted the party had conducted due diligence on its representatives.

Habib added: "Gribbin has apologised and what I’d like to focus on is the election and not comments about 1930s England.”

Reform sparked outrage on Monday after a party spokesman doubled down on the claim Britain would have been better off had it remained neutral in the Second World War.

He told the BBC: "Through offence archaeology the BBC has found that Mr Gribbin has made a series of comments about a number of subjects.

"They were written with an eye to inconvenient perspectives and truths. That doesn't make them endorsements, just arguing points in long-distance debates.

"His historical perspective of what the UK could have done in the 30s was shared by the vast majority of the British establishment including the BBC of its day, and is probably true.”

Veterans' Minister Johnny Mercer said the comments were "shameful" and showed "a shocking lack of judgment".

"These comments ignore the millions murdered by the Nazis in their bid for European domination and the ultimate sacrifice paid by the men and women who stood up to Hitler in our darkest hour,” he said.

"Misusing appeasement to justify Nazi apologism is disgraceful and comments like this are deeply troubling coming from a political party."

Speaking to the JC, a Reform spokesman said Britain would have been better off had it not fought Nazi Germany, but that taking on Hitler was the right thing to do nonetheless.

The UK lost a massive amount of “blood and treasure” because of Churchill’s decision to fight, he said.

“If you’d sued for peace in the 1930s, as most of the establishment wanted us to do in the first place, the country would have had fewer people dead. Historically he has a point, but it’s not what we did.”

Gribbin also wrote that women are the “sponging gender” and are, “subsidised by men to merely breath.”

Discussing Vladamir Putin, he said: "[He] understands the bonds that create more stable societies; the hypocrisy of the West is preposterous as we stare in the face daily the enormous economic equalities created by our deluded neo liberal ideas."

In an apology released on Monday, Gribbin said his mother was the daughter of Russian Jews who fled persecution.

"I apologise for these old comments and withdraw them unreservedly,” he said.

"I further apologise for the upset that they have caused.”

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