The UKIP candidate for the Great Grimsby constituency in the general election on June 8 has been slammed for comments he made on social media describing the town as “poor” and “full of working class people”.
UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Mike Hookem posted the comments on Twitter in October 2016, with his remarks resurfacing following Theresa May’s announcement of a snap general election.
Hookem is currently awaiting confirmation to be UKIP’s candidate in Great Grimsby.
His tweet read: “By the way, Grimsby is one of the poor bits full of working class people between Cambridge and Edinburgh.”
Hookem’s Twitter account has since been deleted.
The MEP told Lincolnshire Reporter: “Take a look around and see what decades of Labour rule has done to the town of Great Grimsby.
“As a working class lad, I was brought up to speak honestly. Grimsby is one of the poorer areas of the UK and is a prime example of how the Labour Party have failed working men and women.
“As a proud working class man myself, it sickens me that Labour politicians trapped in the Westminster ‘bubble’ do nothing to help people who frankly, deserve better!
“For decades, the people of Grimsby have seen declining living standards, reduced job opportunities, and falling income levels under Labour’s watch.
“This must change and I am determined to turn this town around.
“While Labour are determined to keep the UK in the EU, I am equally determined to use our exit as an opportunity to rebuild and regenerate the town.
“The fact is, there is no reason that Grimsby cannot be great again, but it is going to take considerable vision and effort to do so.
“While people may wish to waste their efforts examining every word I put on Twitter, my focus is on creating jobs and bring back industry to a town that deserves better.”
This is not the first time the 63-year-old, who serves as UKIP’s fisheries spokesperson, has courted controversy.
The tweet was published just days after his now notorious “altercation” with his then UKIP colleague in the European Parliament, Steven Woolfe.
The incident led to Woolfe being rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Hookem has repeatedly insisted that he did not strike Woolfe, describing the incident as a “tussle”.
Labour MP for Great Grimsby Melanie Onn has been quick to condemn Hookem’s comments.
She said: “As a working class trade unionist who is proud to be from Grimsby, I have spent the last two years putting my hometown back on the map, making sure the voices of my friends and neighbours are heard in Westminster.
“I’ve saved hundreds of jobs, brought new investment into our town centre, and saved the rail link to Manchester.
“The last thing we need now is an outsider talking us down.
“I have championed the offshore wind industry which has brought hundreds of high-skilled well paid jobs to our town with many more to come, making Grimsby the renewable energy capital of England.
“Why would anyone who really has our town’s interests at heart want to shut that industry down?”