Arron Banks, one of Ukip’s major donors, has said that his membership of the party has been suspended, and he now intends to build his own political movement from his Leave.EU campaign group.
Mr Banks, who has been consistently critical of the Ukip leadership and recently demanded to be made party chairman or he would stop his donations, announced on Twitter he had been suspended from the party, and when asked why, said: “Apparently for saying the current leadership couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding.”
Mr Banks told The Independent he had paid to renew his membership but that it had been “withheld”.
He said in a statement: “Ukip has somehow managed to allow my membership to lapse this year despite having given considerably more than the annual membership fee over the past 12 months.
“On reapplying I was told my membership was suspended pending my appearance at a NEC meeting.
“Apparently, my comments about the party being run like a squash club committee and Mr Carswell have not gone down well.
“I now realise I was being unfair to squash clubs all over the UK and I apologise to them.
“We will now be concentrating on our new movement.”
Last week Mr Banks told The Independent that leader Paul Nuttall was “quite weak” and that the party was “run like a squash club committee”.
He has also announced his intention to stand against the party’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, in Clacton at the next general election.
In an interview with The Independent he outlined plans to transform his Leave.EU movement, which has more than a million social media followers, into a UK version of the Italian Five Star movement, with radical policies on housing, immigration and the nationalisation of utilities. Mr Banks wrote on his Twitter account: “Ukip 2.0. The Force Awakens.”
A Ukip spokesperson said he understood Mr Banks’ membership had “lapsed earlier in the year”.
Party chairman Paul Oakden said Mr Banks had not been suspended from the party, but that his membership had lapsed and it would be up to Paul Nuttall if the businessman would be allowed to renew it.
A spokesperson said in a statement: “Mr Banks was notified last year that his membership was due for renewal at the start of October but chose not to renew, despite reminders. With this his membership expired on 1 January 2017.
“It would not be possible to suspend Mr Banks from something of which he is not a member.”
Mr Banks has amassed a large personal fortune in the insurance industry and has donated more than £7m to Ukip. He is a close friend of Nigel Farage and has accompanied him on more than one trip to meet US President Donald Trump.Reuse content