Deputy Ukip chair Suzanne Evans says party must focus on 'compassionate, centre-ground'

The remarks come after reports of divisions in the party have emerged

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Ukip’s deputy chairwoman has said her party needs to focus on “compassionate, centre-ground” policies and contested reports of party infighting.

Suzanne Evans, who wrote Ukip’s latest manifesto, dismissed the row over Nigel Farage’s leadership claiming the problem was related to advisors who have since left the party.

The deputy chairwoman said the party’s future lay in diversifying and becoming more open, not returning to what it was several years ago.

“I don't think anyone hates anyone,” Ms Evans told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

“I think we have had some problems with advisers around Nigel, who very much kept him in their pocket if you like and I think he has had too much influence from them.”

Two of the leader’s key aides, Raheem Kassam, his chief of staff, and Matthew Richardson, the party secretary, have since left Ukip.

 

Ms Evans backed Ukip MP Douglas Carswell’s idea of the party leader taking a break, but only for a holiday and nothing longer, asserting Mr Carswell’s remarks had been misinterpreted.

Ukip’s only MP had been embroiled in a row with Mr Farage over whether the Ukip should accept "short money" after the party won close to four million votes at the election.

Mr Carswell also criticised the leader for striking the wrong “tone” when he raised concerns about the NHS treating immigrants with HIV and said the party should not take big decisions on the leadership in the immediate aftermath of the election.

Last week, in a sign of internal tensions, Ukip’s campaign director, Patrick O’Flynn, said that Mr Farage’s advisors made him “snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive”.

Ms Evans explained the comments by saying Mr O’Flynn was talking about "Nigel's public image, rather than Nigel himself. Clearly there is a big distinction to be made there.

“I think if you look at the manifesto - and let's not forget I wrote the manifesto - I think it was very compassionate, very centre-ground, very balanced and Nigel called it - bless him - the best manifesto ever written. So it was a great sort of feather in my cap.

“That I think is where he wants to take the party and where the party needs to go.”

On shy kippers, a phenomenon repeatedly alluded to by Mr Farage during the campaign, Ms Evans said it was crucial to find out why those people were shy.

She added: “If we've got it absolutely right and if our party brand is working at the moment, why don't people want to sing and dance about it?”

PA

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