UK & World News
UKIP Selects Roger Helmer To Stand In Newark
UKIP hope MEP Roger Helmer will become its first Member of Parliament after selecting him to fight the Newark by-election.
Mr Helmer, who has represented the East Midlands in the European Parliament for 15 years, will stand in the June 5 poll after party leader Nigel Farage ruled himself out last week.
Mr Helmer, who thinks it is "madness" to invest in wind farms and opposes gay marriage, received a glowing endorsement from his boss.
"He is a massively experienced and respected figure on the national political stage and on the local political stage as well," said Mr Farage.
"I know the UKIP membership will rally to the cause of making Roger our first directly elected MP."
The MEP was last week criticised for saying it was as acceptable for people to dislike homosexuality as it was to prefer certain types of tea.
When challenged by The Sun newspaper on on remarks he had that some people find homosexuality "distasteful if not viscerally repugnant", he said: "Different people may have different tastes".
"You may tell me that you don't like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don't like it."
He has previously said he objects to the word 'homophobia' being thrown at people with "conventional views".
In a post on his blog in 2009, he wrote: "In psychiatry, a phobia is defined as an irrational fear. I have yet to meet anyone who has an irrational fear of homosexuals, or of homosexuality.
"[The word] homophobia is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history."
Speaking after being put forward for the seat, Mr Helmer said: "I am both proud and humbled to have been selected by the constituency association in Newark to represent the UKIP cause in this historic town in what could well prove to be an historic by-election.
"It would be a huge honour to be elected to serve as Newark's MP and I will be giving my all over the next few weeks to achieve that outcome."
Mr Helmer is a former Conservative MEP who quit the party after becoming "disillusioned". He joined UKIP in 2012.
Last year, Mr Farage admitted Mr Helmer went ''too far'' by drawing a link between gay marriage and incest in a blog. He had written: "If two men have a right to marry, how can we deny the same right to two siblings? Are we to authorise incest?"
As a Tory MEP during the London riots in 2011, Mr Helmer suggested the Army should "shoot looters and arsonists on sight".
The Nottinghamshire seat is available after independent MP Patrick Mercer quit last month before a critical standards report was published.