Nigel Farage
The Ukip leader says the comments weren't malicious but Smith is not fit to be a PPC Reuters

A former Ukip prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) who called a Chinese woman a "chinky" is a "rough diamond" and was using language people would use to describe a Chinese takeaway, according to Nigel Farage.

The Ukip leader made the comments after Kerry Smith, who was selected by the Eurosceptic party to fight the South Basildon and East Thurrock seat next may, was caught out making homophobic and racist remarks.

The Mail on Sunday published a recording of the Essex County Council and Basildon District Council representative describing gay people as "fucking disgusting old poofters" and referred to a woman with a Chinese name as a "chinky" as well as joking about shooting people from Chigwell in a "peasant hunt".

Smith stood down as the party's PPC and resigned from Ukip after the comments came to light.

"If you and your mates were going out for a Chinese, what would you call it?" Farage told LBC Radio.

The Ukip leader also said that he was "sad" that Smith had made the remarks because he is a "rough diamond" and a "council house boy from East London".

Farage said he thought his comments were not "malicious", but stressed that Smith was not fit to be a PPC.

Farage suffered a heavy slump in his popularity with voters after very public rows rocked the party.

New polling by Ipsos/Mori revealed Farage's rating has plummeted 14 points in less than three weeks, in the wake of uproar over his comments on breastfeeding and a Ukip sex scandal.

Farage's performance rating of minus 20 looks set to be seized upon by political opponents.

The research also revealed a second monthly fall in Ukip's predicted vote share, down to 13% from 16% in October.