Nigel Farage claims Reform candidate’s Hitler comments were just ‘pub speak’

A Reform UK parliamentary candidate who said the UK “should have accepted Hitler’s offer of neutrality” was only making “ordinary” pub talk, Nigel Farage has claimed.

Ian Gribbin, standing for Reform in Bexhill and Battle, also wrote online that women were the “sponging gender” and should be “deprived of health care” in comments reportedly made on the UnHerd website. Mr Farage, Reform’s leader, blamed Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a snap election for 4 July for not being able to properly vet candidates.

The Reform leader said he was not able to deselect Mr Gribbin because the legal deadline had passed for putting prospective MPs on the ballot paper, before declining to say whether he still backed the candidate.

“I can’t, they are legally on the ballot paper,” he told LBC Radio on Thursday. “I can disown them, I might well do that... its ordinary folk down the pub speak.”

Nigel Farage in the LBC studio as he addressed the backlash to his candidate (PA Wire)
Nigel Farage in the LBC studio as he addressed the backlash to his candidate (PA Wire)

Mr Gribbin, who has since apologised for the remarks, also described wartime leader Winston Churchill as “abysmal” and praised Russian president Vladimir Putin.

A spokesperson for Reform said the comments were not “endorsements” and claimed they were written “with an eye to inconvenient perspectives and truths”.

Mr Gribbin is reported to have posted on the Unherd website in 2022: “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.”

The same month he wrote that the UK should “exorcise the cult of Churchill and recognize that in both policy and military strategy, he was abysmal”.

The previous month he criticised women, writing: “Do you think you could actually work and pay for it all too like good citizens? Men pay 80% of tax – women spend 80% of tax revenue. On aggregate as a group you only take from society. Less complaining please from the ‘sponging gender’.”

Ian Gribbin has since apologised for the comments (Reform UK)
Ian Gribbin has since apologised for the comments (Reform UK)

In a separate post, he suggested squaring the inequality “by depriving women of healthcare until their life expectancies are the same as men, Fair’s fair.”

In 2021, he wrote female soldiers “almost made me wretch [sic]” and were a “total liability”. In the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said that President Putin had “shown a maturity of which we can only dream of”.

Mr Gribbings said: “I apologise for these old comments and withdraw them unreservedly and the upset that they have caused.”

But Johnny Mercer, the veterans’ minister, said the comments were “shameful” and showed “a shocking lack of judgement”.

The Conservative Party said the comments ignored 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.

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