Tory MP: UKIP risks encouraging homophobia and racism in Britain

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Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston has condemned Nigel Farage’s remarks that migrants living with HIV should not be allowed to enter Britain and warns the party is “enabling” people to express “homophobic or racist sentiments”.

The MP for Totnes in Devon said it was “unacceptable” to “link mass murderers with people living with HIV.”

Dr Wollaston, who chairs the health select committee and a former GP, made the comments on Saturday, during a BBC Radio 4 debate, alongside UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall.

The MP claimed the rise of UKIP had allowed more people to feel “enabled or encouraged” to express “really nasty homophobic or racist sentiments, badged as ‘just speaking my mind’.”

In an interview with Newsweek Europe, Mr Farage set out the changes he would like to see on immigration, including a block on convicted killers being allowed into the UK, referring to the prime suspect in the Alice Gross murder case.

The UKIP leader said he wanted “to control the quantity and quality of people who come” to the UK.

Asked by Newsweek whether “quality” meant people without a murder conviction, he answered: “Yes. And people who do not have HIV, to be frank. That’s a good start. And people with a skill. That is what Britain should do”.

Last year, Dr Wollaston was criticised by fellow Tory MP Margot James for supporting a failed amendment to the Immigration Bill. It would have restricted people with HIV and Hepatitis B from entering the UK.

The Home Office rejected the proposal, tabled by Tory MP and former GP, Dr Phillip Lee.

The National AIDS Trust branded the amendment “shameful”, suggesting it would be unworkable, discriminatory and fuel stigma.

In a subsequent post on her blog, Dr Wollaston said her support for the amendment was about triggering “debate” on testing – but that she did support banning people with HIV and Hep B from entering Britain.

She wrote: “I do not agree with the wording but I do agree that it is time for an open and honest debate about whether and if so how, to introduce screening for those permanently settling in the UK from counties with a high prevalence of HIV.

“Screening has very clear benefits for people affected by HIV and we should embrace it, particularly for those at risk.

“I can understand why any proposal to pre-screen for HIV has been greeted with dismay; there is an acutely painful legacy of stigma and discrimination. The trouble is that the long shadow of that stigma is now costing lives.”

The MP added: “The Lee amendment would effectively have permanently barred entry to anyone with HIV. I do not agree that is ethically justified. It would reinforce dangerous myths about the risks posed to others by those living with HIV. If screening is introduced for those who settle in the UK from high risk nations it should be without the threat of a bar on entry.

“Too many people still assume that HIV affects only gay men or drug users. It is mostly transmitted through heterosexual sex

“It is time to confront the myths about HIV alongside an open debate about whether to introduce a screening programme which, if properly implemented, could save lives through early intervention and prevention.”