But UKIP, whose policies are geared towards removing Britain from the European Union, subsequently suspended him from formal involvement in party business. He resigned on Tuesday.
"I have felt for some time now that the ‘New UKIP’ is not really right for me anymore," Bloom said in a statement. "May I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the thousands of people who have supported me with messages of good will in the recent months and particularly in recent days."
He will now sit as an independent MEP for the remaining 18 months of his five-year term. Bloom, 63, did not say whether he plans to contest his seat in future.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage told the BBC on Tuesday that he did not want to see his colleague "hounded out of the party."
He added: "All the things Godfrey has said have not been meant in malice but they have all been tremendous distractions from the main messages UKIP is trying to push out."
Farage last week insisted that Bloom was "not an extremist ... he's not anti-women."
On an anti-mass immigration platform, UKIP has increased its support to around 10 percent, according to pollsters YouGov. It took just three percent of the vote in the last national election in 2010.
However, UKIP secured nearly one in four of the votes cast at elections for local government jobs in May.
British Prime Minister David Cameron once described UKIP as being full of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" but the party is now trying to portray itself as more mainstream.
Last month, Bloom also sparked controversy when he said foreign aid was being sent to “bongo bongo land.”
UKIP leader Nigel Farage in the Marquis of Granby pub near Britain's Westminster parliament.
By Alastair Jamieson, Staff writer, NBC News
LONDON — With a pint of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, he is not a politician in the sleek, marketed mold.
But Nigel Farage and his UK Independence Party — once dismissed as "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" — have seen their popularity soar, putting Britain's possible exit from the European Union at the top of the political agenda.
The former commodities trader left a well-rewarded career in London’s financial district to lead a party that had been widely seen a single-issue fringe movement since it was founded in 1993.
Suddenly the "fruitcakes" jibe — made by Prime Minister David Cameron — looks out of step with the prevailing political mood.
Polls suggest 1 in 5 voters might support UKIP in Britain’s 2015 parliamentary election. That is unlikely to translate into seats under Westminster’s first-past-the-post system, but by splitting the vote in individual constituencies it could tip the balance against Cameron’s Conservative Party, which is seeking an outright majority over the Liberal Democrats and Labour.
Under Farage, UKIP has broadened from its primary objective of an "amicable divorce" from Europe, adopting a series of populist causes including a freeze on immigration, opposition to gay marriage and an end to wind turbines, high-speed rail projects and "political correctness."
Its success comes chiefly, but not exclusively, at the expense of the Conservative Party, whose progressive social policies and 2010 coalition with the Liberal Democrats have left many traditional conservatives feeling disenfranchised.
As an outlet for anger not just at policies but at politics itself, UKIP’s rise faintly echoes that of the Tea Party movement in the United States.
“Voters are dissatisfied with the three main parties, so with nowhere to turn they see UKIP as a way of getting their message across,” said Colin Rallings, polling expert and professor of politics at the University of Plymouth. "Farage is the only leader left who can portray himself as untainted. He can say, 'I’m not to blame for the way things are.'"
Britain might be close to continental Europe — the English Channel separating France from Dover’s chalk-white cliffs is 26 miles across at its narrowest point — but politically it remains far adrift from its neighbors on the issue of deepening ties with the European Union.
A ComRes poll for the Open Europe think tank, published last Tuesday, found that 41 percent of British voters favor withdrawal from the European Union, compared with 37 percent who want to remain inside and 22 percent who don’t know or wouldn’t vote [PDF link here].
But it is not just concern about Europe that has forced UKIP onto the main stage, but also Farage himself.
Olivia Harris / Reuters, file
Farage's party made big gains in May.
Educated, but not patrician — he likes to host impromptu news conferences in pubs — he shuns the manufactured style of the career politician and is fond of cricket, pinstripe suits and purple socks featuring the symbol for the British pound.
He is the embodiment of UKIP’s predominantly middle-class, white, professional support base: standing at the bar holding an after-work beer, putting the world to rights as the exasperated voice of those who feel overtaxed and overgoverned and that Britain has lost its collective common sense.
"If you asked people which party leader they would rather have a drink with, most would say Nigel," said Roger Helmer, a British lawmaker in the European Parliament who defected from the Conservatives to UKIP last year. “He is charismatic, and says the sort of things that people on the street are thinking.”
“They’re angry at the slow pace of reform coming from the Coalition, its prioritizing of social liberalism over social justice, its failure to cut taxes for the middle class, its ring-fenced foreign aid budget and its poor economic record. The perpetually furious could have turned to Labour, but memories are long of how they spent all the money in the Noughties, and contempt is deep for [Labour Party leader Ed] Miliband’s student union style of politics. Many voters have reached the conclusion that the philosophical division between the parties is so narrow, that incompetence is so ubiquitous, that the personalities are so uniformly unreal that there really is no difference between the three main parties. Under those circumstances, why not vote for the anarchist fringe?
Above all, Farage exhibits a very British trait of refusing to take himself, or anything, particularly seriously — putting himself even further at odds with the gray, managerial world of European politics.
In 2012, he was rebuked by the speaker of the European Parliament after addressing EU President Herman Van Rompuy in a speech with the words: “I don’t want to be rude, but, you know, really, you have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk.”
On the defensive, Britain’s Conservatives have been forced into promising to hold an outright referendum in 2017 on whether Britain should remain in Europe, and Cameron has pledged to negotiate better terms for Britain’s membership of the EU.
Perhaps the biggest effect of UKIP's surge in popularity has been the divisions that have been exposed within the Conservative party.
UKIP via YouTube
A clip, uploaded to YouTube by UKIP, showing Nigel Farage comparing EU President Herman van Rompuy to a low-grade bank clerk.
Farage believes many more Conservatives privately sympathize with UKIP, deriding them as “three-pint Euroskeptics” — lawmakers who give the official party line in public but, after three drinks, admit UKIP is right about the EU.
Indeed, Thatcher-era finance minister and Conservative party grandee Nigel Lawson has publicly called on the U.K. to quit the EU, saying Britain was being “marginalized” by members of the Euro currency zone and held back by over-regulation.
Then two serving British cabinet ministers — Education Secretary Michael Gove and Defense Secretary Philip Hammond — said publicly that they would vote to leave the EU unless Britain's current relationship with the bloc changed.
Farage's talent as a saloon-bar crowd-pleaser has its drawbacks, however. Despite insisting it is not a party for racists and xenophobes — Farage’s second wife is German — UKIP’s tough message on immigration has attracted unwelcome support.
"There is no doubt that UKIP is riding high on the back of the economic problems Europe is experiencing, but UKIP is more of a pressure group than a party," said Charles Moore, former Sunday Telegraph editor and official biographer of Margaret Thatcher.
"The next election will be interesting, but I don’t see UKIP permanently reshaping British party politics."
There is also still substantial support for Cameron’s policy of staying in the EU but on better terms and with a transfer of some powers back to London from Brussels.
The Open Europe/ComRes poll found that, if there were a significant return of powers to Westminster followed by a referendum, 47 percent of all voters would want to stay in the EU, against one-third of all voters (32 percent) who would still want to leave.
"If you give people a binary choice of ‘in or out’ they will choose 'out,'" said Stephen Booth, research director of Open Europe. "But if you ask them what they would do if Britain negotiated a better deal, they would support EU membership. It is a very complex issue."
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron makes a long-awaited speech on the UK's place in the European Union in London on Wednesday.
By Ian Johnston, Staff Writer, NBC News
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday announced Britain would hold a referendum on whether it should leave the European Union if his Conservative Party wins the next election.
His comments prompted a largely angry reaction from European politicians, who condemned Cameron for "playing with fire" and trying to bend the 27-nation bloc to his will.
France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius revealed he had recently told a group of British businessmen that "if Britain wants to leave Europe, we will roll out the red carpet for you," Reuters reported Wednesday.
“People ... resent the interference in our national life by what they see as unnecessary rules and regulation. And they wonder what the point of it all is,” he said.
“It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision,” Cameron added. “And when that choice comes, you will have an important choice to make about our country’s destiny.”
'Charting our own course' He said that he understood “the appeal of going it alone, of charting our own course.”
“Of course Britain could make her own way in the world, outside the EU, if we chose to do so … But the question we will have to ask ourselves is this: is that the very best future for our country?” Cameron said.
Cameron has talked about renegotiating the U.K.’s relationship with Brussels and told parliament later Wednesday he would campaign to stay in the EU -- if he was successful in reforming it.
But he repeatedly refused to answer questions from Labour Party leader Ed Miliband on how he would vote in the referendum if he was unsuccessful.
Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the European Parliament, said Cameron was “playing with fire” by saying he would renegotiate Britain’s membership and hold a referendum, according to ITV News. “He ... is raising false expectations that can never be met,” he said.
And European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the speech was “one of the worst I heard in a long time,” ITV News reported.
Schulz said Cameron was in favor of the single European market but also was also complaining about the regulations that govern it. “So, what does he want -- the internal market or the regulations? … I find what Mr. Cameron is doing very implausible,” he added.
Fabius, the French official, said it was as if Britain had joined a soccer club and then suddenly said "let's play rugby," Reuters reported. And German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said “cherry-picking” what the U.K. liked about the EU and leaving the rest was “not an option.”
“He is gambling that his referendum promise will calm rather than stir the fury of Eurosceptics both inside and outside his party, that he can persuade 26 other European leaders to give the UK the deal he wants and that voters will then choose to back it,” he said.
“If he pulls it off he will restore [Conservative] Party unity, see off the threat of UKIP, put Labour on the back foot and secure a relationship with the EU which is no longer a political nightmare for him and his party,” he added. “If he doesn't the name Cameron will be added to those of [Harold] Wilson, [Margaret] Thatcher and [John] Major - those whose premierships were destroyed by that most toxic issue in politics - Europe.”
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (right) faces some tough negotiations with the likes of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (left).
By Peter Jeary, Foreign Desk Editor, NBC News
Updated at 8:55 p.m. ET: British Prime Minister David Cameron has cancelled a major speech, originally scheduled for Friday, because of the uncertain outcome of the hostage-taking crisis at an Algerian gas plant that started Wednesday, the Telegraph reported.
An unknown number of the hostages — which included dozens of foreign nationals and Algerians — were killed as Algerian forces attempted a rescue mission that reportedly went awry late Thursday. One Briton was reported dead in the hostage crisis, and Cameron warned that the country should be prepared for "further bad news."
LONDON — It says a lot about Britain's ambivalent attitude toward its membership of the European Union that the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which wants the country to leave the bloc, has 12 seats in the European Parliament.
Britain is so close to continental Europe — the English Channel is just 26 miles across at its narrowest point — that people sometimes swim to France. But, politically, the country has arguably not been further away for decades.
The right-leaning Telegraph newspaper reported Thursday that "Cameron is expected to pledge to renegotiate Britain’s [EU] membership, if he is re-elected in 2015, after which the revised relationship will be the subject of a referendum."
Reuters described Cameron's looming speech as "one of the most closely watched Europe addresses by a British leader since World War Two."
Political and business leaders have voiced concerns over the risk of calling a referendum that could see Britain leaving the EU, which offers a market of 500 million people on its doorstep.
The EU has been awarded the Nobel Prize for its role in uniting the continent after two World Wars. ITV's James Mates reports.
And Reuters noted that "international partners from the United States to Germany and Ireland have made it clear they oppose a British EU exit and believe that such a move would isolate and damage Britain itself."
Europe's common currency, the euro, is mired in turmoil, leaving most Britons glad the U.K. kept the pound.
John Curtice, electoral analyst and professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said UKIP’s poll surge was a major factor in pushing Britain’s relationship with the rest of Europe to the center of the political agenda.
"There is no doubt that recent electoral success for UKIP has made Europe an issue for Conservatives," he said.
"There is enormous pressure on David Cameron from within his party," he added. "Many Conservative members of parliament are looking ahead to the next election and thinking, 'I'll be damned if I lose because my party cannot come up with a coherent policy on Europe that voters can support.'"
Yves Herman / Reuters, file
The rising star of British politics? UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage stands near a coffin symbolizing "the death of the Euro" during a demonstration in 2011 urging the European Union to stop extending help to Greece.
Curtice said UKIP’s poll ratings appeared to be driven by mid-term protest votes that traditionally went to Liberal Democrats, but which were up for grabs now that the party has joined the Conservatives in the ruling coalition.
"However, regardless of why UKIP is getting attention, its presence is making Europe a problem for the Conservative party and its supporters, many of whom are instinctively wary of Europe," Curtice added.
One key challenge for Cameron is that getting the EU to change has proved notoriously difficult for successive British prime ministers. Cameron has also often been left isolated at EU summits due to his opposition to various proposals.
Professor Iain Begg, of the European Institute at the London School of Economics, said a hard-line stance by Cameron could potentially result in "amendments to some of the [EU] directives that Britain finds unpalatable."
However, he said that a total renegotiation of the treaties that bind the EU together was unlikely.
Cameron will need to reconcile demands from so-called Euroskeptics within his own party for the repatriation of powers from Brussels with calls from other parts of his coalition government for closer European integration.
And he'll need to do so while not offending his political peers and allies in Europe and beyond.
Speaking to Reuters, one unnamed EU diplomat wondered how Cameron could walk that tightrope:
"Britain's Europe policy has been confusing for a long time. He's going to have to sort out a lot of misunderstandings before he can convince people of what he's doing," said the official, underlining that uncertainty would not go away overnight.
"The risk remains of an exit by mistake. It shouldn't happen, but other things that shouldn't have happened did."
Finland's prime minister signaled he was worried about what Cameron might announce during Friday's speech.
"The EU without Britain is pretty much the same as fish without chips," Jyrki Katainen told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday. "It's not a meal any more."
NBC News' Alastair Jamieson and Reuters contributed to this report.
LONDON -- Three children were removed from the care of an English couple because their support for the U.K. Independence Party meant they were unsuitable to provide foster care, an official said Saturday.
Local government body Rotherham Council said that the three children were not “indigenous white British” and that social workers had raised concerns about the UKIP political party’s stance on immigration, ITV News reported.
Joyce Thacker, the director for children and young people's services at Rotherham Council, told BBC News that the children were placed with the couple on an emergency basis and were not due to remain with them permanently. She confirmed they had been removed from the couple's care.
“If the party [UKIP] mantra … is ending the active promotion of multiculturalism, I have to think about that,” she added. “I think they [UKIP] have very clear views on immigration.”
She told the BBC that the decision had not been “easy” and she did not think UKIP was a “racist party.”
On immigration, it says "the tide of mass EU immigration has pushed down wages and restricted job opportunities. Only by leaving the EU can we regain control of our borders." The party is calling for a permanent immigration freeze for 5 years and says immigrants "must be fluent in English, have minimum education levels and show they can financially support themselves."
The British Education Secretary Michael Gove, a member of the center-right Conservative Party, also attacked the decision, ITV News reported.
“Rotherham's reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible. The ideology behind their decision is actively harmful to children,” he said.
“We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families. We need more parents to foster, and many more to adopt,” he added.
The center-left Labour Party said in a message on Twitter that “Membership of UKIP shouldn't block parents from adopting children. There needs to be an urgent investigation by Rotherham Council into this.”