MP Rushanara Ali enters ‘bongo bongo land’ row

Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali

Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali - Credit: Archant

Controversial remarks by a UK Independence Party Euro MP in which he said Britain should not be sending aid money to “bongo-bongo land” have been branded offensive by Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali.

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom, who was criticised by Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom, who was criticised by Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom was criticised yesterday for questioning whether aid money should be sent to third world countries, claiming recipients spend the cash on luxuries.

But Ms Ali, who is shadow minister for international development, described Mr Bloom’s comments as an “offensive set of remarks”, commending British people for how much they give to charity.

She added: “Of course there will be some people who, like Godfrey, have got a very narrow-minded, very objectionable set of views who will make offensive comments about an entire continent.

“But that thankfully is a small minority of people. Most people will recognise, yes times are tough, we need to spend our money effectively, but there’s a great value in supporting developing countries because these are the economies that we are starting to trade with and in future we will be doing more of that.

“And we need to look to Asia, to Africa, to improve our economic fortunes. We can’t do that if those countries face extreme poverty and they cannot do well and thrive economically. That’s when we start to see the gains both for ourselves as well as the populations of that country.”

But in an ill-tempered interview with Channel 4 news, Mr Bloom refused to accept Ms Ali was genuinely offended, describing her comments as part of a “political game.”

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“I don’t even know the woman. How can she be offended by it?” he asked.

Shortly afterwards, the MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire cut the interview short, complaining it was focusing too much on his choice of words rather than the wider issue.

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