ISIS are “just like us really”, only “more killy”, Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith has said.
He has insisted that the terror group is “fine really”, provided you scratch them under the ears and occasionally rub their belly.
“In some cultures, to found a hyper-theocratic, bloodthirsty, marauding, murderous caliphate is seen as alright,” he added.
Smith made the remarks at a televised hustings with rival Jeremy Corbyn, who nodded gravely while Smith spoke before saying: “I don’t agree. Austerity is wrong and we should have less preservatives in our jam.”
Smith, who is MP for Pontypridd, also revealed he had been writing to and visiting several convicted ISIS members in prison, and had even forged a romantic link with one.
“His name’s Lionel. He’s home-grown, you see. He tries to call himself Abu Ninja but he’ll always be Lionel to me.
“The last time I saw him was so lovely. Our hands met on the glass and I tenderly wished I could touch him. Then he spat at the glass and mimed slitting my throat.”
Corbyn, who followed Smith’s anecdote closely, rebutted: “Well, it’s all fine and well being against fracking, but what are you going to do to actually boost renewables investment?”
Smith insisted that ISIS were “really no more violent than the Irish” and that a future Syrian peace process “would pretty much work the exact same way as in Northern Ireland, ignoring the whole gays-getting-thrown-off-buildings and women-and-children-as-sex-slaves and livestreaming-beheadings stuff for a moment”.
An outraged Corbyn responded: “That’s a horrendous thing to say about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and I think you owe this audience an apology.”
Corbyn has previously been criticised by right-wing tabloids for “physically and emotionally loving terrorists” and some commentators suggest Smith may be trying to outflank the Labour leader on the “pacifist but also pro-terrorism left”.
Smith was quick to try and defuse the furore surrounding his comments at the hustings, issuing a statement after that said: “As of tonight, Lionel and I are no longer an item. I burned all the letters he wrote me in a drone strike. It turned out we wanted different things. I wanted a moderate centre-left government and he wanted to murder me. It was never going to work.”
The hustings also revealed that Jeremy Corbyn had no idea who Ant and Dec were, despite the fact that Ant is his son.