Nigel Farage quits UKIP over far-right turn
Party leader Gerard Batten’s hiring of Tommy Robinson a bridge too far for Farage
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he is quitting the party, citing the party’s turn towards the far-right in recent times.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Farage said that he was doing so with a “heavy heart”, naming the presence of “several angry young men, red in the face and mildly abusive, who all seemed to be obsessed with Islam and Tommy Robinson”.
Farage had also called for current UKIP leader, Gerard Batten, to be removed from office after he appointed divisive far-right political activist Robinson as an advisor on “rape gangs” and “grooming in prison”.
The former UKIP leader also claimed that his party had been successful in the past through its long-standing policy of “excluding extremists”, and “wasn’t founded to be a party based on fighting a religious crusade”.
A statement from UKIP’s ruling National Executive Committee said the party does not endorse the appointment of Robinson in “any advisory role”, adding that “He is not a UKIP member and through his associations he is barred from joining UKIP”.
However, Sky News reports that the UKIP NEC had “overwhelmingly” voted against a motion of no confidence in its leader, allowing Batten to stay in the role.
UKIP’s former deputy chair, Suzanne Evans, has also quit the party following the no confidence vote, citing the “perverse direction” that Batten has led the party in recent months.
“I would never have joined UKIP as it stands today, obsessed as it is with becoming a successor to the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL), and putting an increasingly hostile and vicious focus on attacking the Muslim community en masse,” she said.