Simon McGee Political Editor YORKSHIRE Euro MP Godfrey Bloom has confessed to visiting brothels and declared that, far from being exploited, most prostitutes "do it because they want to".
In an extraordinary admission, the UK Independence Party politician has said that as a Hong Kong-based businessman he used to visit whorehouses as if he were going for a curry following an after-work drink.
But in an article penned for the Brussels-based political magazine The Sprout, he claimed the amount of beer usually drunk by him and colleagues meant that visits were never consummated.
In the article, Mr Bloom – who came to prominence after famously joking that women did not clean behind the fridge enough and stating "no small businessman with a brain would employ a woman of child-bearing age" – also criticised the exclusive portrayal of prostitution as a trade exploiting the majority of women working in it.
"Terrified young women beaten into prostitution often from Eastern Europe... is only a very small aspect of the flesh trade," said Mr Bloom, who sits on the European Parliament's women's rights and gender equality committee.
He added: "In short, most girls do it because they want to."
Last night, he insisted he was making a serious political point about proposals currently going through Brussels to "phase out" prostitution – and said attempts to impose blanket bans meant resources being directed away from women who really did need help.
"If they (prostitutes) wanted a job as a Tesco check-out girl, they'd go do that instead." And referring to the experiences detailed in the article, he said: "I did not say that I had taken advantage of a prostitute."
Last night, Labour Yorkshire Euro MP Linda McAvan hit out at Mr Bloom, calling his article "extraordinary".
"Once again, Mr Bloom is making comments that question his suitability for public office," she said.
"If he did any research on the subject I think he would find that prostitution is a very sad affair and the majority of girls don't have any choice in what they're having to do."