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‘If they want to take offence, they’re welcome to’ - Kent MP defends ‘misogynistic’ comments made at Conservative Party fringe event

PUBLISHED: 16:58 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:58 02 October 2017

Craig Mackinlay. Photo: Ady Kerry

Craig Mackinlay. Photo: Ady Kerry

Ady Kerry

Opposition members have slammed Craig Mackinlay following a speech in Manchester

A Kent MP has defended comments he made at a Conservative Party fringe event which have been dubbed “abhorrent and offensive” by opposition members.

Craig Mackinlay caused a stir during a speech in Manchester while claiming that British youngsters needed to show the same motivation as low-skilled workers from elsewhere in Europe.

He is quoted as saying: “I was struggling to think why wouldn’t a youngster from Glasgow without a job come down to the south to work for a farm for the summer with loads of gorgeous EU women working there?

“What’s not to like? Get on your bike and find a job.”

However, the comments were branded “sexist” across social media, while Labour MSP James Kelly told the Daily Record in Scotland: “These are abhorrent and offensive comments that once again prove the Tories are the same old nasty party”.

Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine also condemned the South Thanet MP saying: “These remarks are as misogynistic as they are ignorant. It seems the spirit of Norman Tebbit is still running the Conservative Party.

“Rather than making dismissive and offensive remarks, the Conservatives should be investing in training to get more British young people into work.

“Maybe Mr Mackinlay should follow his own advice and start picking fruit rather than picking fights.”

Responding to KentNews.co.uk, Mr Mackinlay said he had been misquoted, but denied that he said anything offensive and insisted he had been making the point that people in the UK should be more willing to move to find work.

He said: “We have people who are getting a coach from Bucharest wanting to work in hospitality or food processing but why are we not getting that same enthusiasm in areas where there are high levels of unemployment?

“I threw in a ‘what’s not to like’ throwaway comment. If they want to take offence, they are more than welcome to.”

Apple growers told us last month the number of migrant workers picking fruit on Kent farms was down by around a fifth on last year amid fears of a shortage of labour post-Brexit.

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