When candidates run for or hold prominent political office, they often have to reconcile with some of their darker moments.
U.S. President Barack Obama, for example, admitted in his first memoir that he had snorted cocaine earlier in life. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is currently parrying accusations he sexually assaulted multiple women by threatening to sue them after the election. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron consistently had to field questions about whether he had, in fact, engaged in sexual acts with a dead pig.
Sometimes just saying sorry is the easiest way to move on. So on Monday, after British lawmaker John Rees-Evans announced his candidacy for leader of the right-wing U.K. Independence Party, he apologized for his 2014 claim that a homosexual donkey had raped his pet stallion.
In 2014, Rees-Evans was recorded speaking to a protester who asked about his conservative colleagues’ suggestions that some gay people prefer having sex with animals. He responded by saying he has “witnessed that” himself.
“I’ve got a horse and it was there in the field,” he said. “And a donkey came up, which was male, and I’m afraid [it] tried to rape my horse.”
In a televised interview with the BBC on Monday, Rees-Evans, an entrepreneur and former soldier, admitted he’s not a household name in Britain. So the host, Jo Coburn, asked him to explain a little bit about why he’s running for UKIP leader, a post previously filled by Diane James, who abruptly quit earlier this month, just 18 days after she took the job.
Coburn asked Rees-Evans to explain details from a Vice profile that described how he once convinced IKEA employees in Bulgaria to let him carry his Glock handgun into the store just in case terrorists were to attack. The same article said he owned a dozen homes in a remote part of the Bulgarian countryside, and described a bunker he’s building in Bulgaria in case of a global meltdown. Why Bulgaria? “He feels more liberated there,” Vice reported.
Rees-Evans called the article “entirely exaggerated” and accused Coburn of focusing on minor details about his life and thus not allowing him to explain his vision for UKIP.
So he certainly wasn’t pleased when she turned to the horse and donkey.
“The guy was asking me questions in the street,” he said. “It was an error of judgment, very early coming into politics, and I’m sorry if I offended anyone from doing that, but please can I move on?”
Photo credit: Dan Dennison/Getty Images