Douglas Carswell, one of Ukip’s most senior figures, has called on the party to stop making “the mistake of blaming outsiders” for Britain’s problems and described disliking foreigners as “not merely offensive, but absurd”.
The former Tory MP’s comments came as a damning new poll showed Ukip had failed to win the support of young voters ahead of the general election in May, who were found to be six times more likely to choose the Green Party.
Mr Carswell, whose by-election victory over his former party in October made him one of Ukip’s most influential faces and one of their two members in the Commons, said it was “interdependence that put the Great into Great Britain”.
His comments come after party leader Nigel Farage defended the language used by Ukip candidate Kerry Smith, who mocked gay party members as “p******s”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone as a “C****y bird”.
Mr Farage also made headlines last month when he blamed his lateness to a paid-for party event on “immigrants” causing greater traffic on the M4.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Carswell said: “Far from being a party that tolerates pejorative comments about people's heritage and background, Ukip in 2015 has to show that we have a serious internationalist agenda.
“Ahead of May's General Election, we now have to show the whole country that we have what it takes to win big. That means an optimistic, internationalist and inclusive agenda for the whole country.”
Ukip gaffes and controversies
Ukip gaffes and controversies
1/18 European elections poster
Party's latest EU election posters branded 'racist' and compared to BNP campaigns
2/18 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Ukip spin doctor forced to intervene as Farage falters in disastrous radio interview
3/18 Neil Hamilton
Picture Exclusive: The year is 1998. The venue is a Springbok Club meeting. The flag is a symbol for white supremacists in South Africa. And the speaker is Ukip’s deputy chairman, Neil Hamilton
4/18 Kerry Smith
Kerry Smith resigned as would-be MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock after it emerged he had mocked gay party members as “disgusting poofters”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone with a Chinese name as a “Chinky bird”
5/18 Natasha Bolter
Former Ukip member Natasha Bolter was suspected of not having the teaching qualifications she professed to, only days after it was revealed that claims of her having attended Oxford University were also false
6/18 Ukip Calypso song
Mike Reid released a single in praise of UKIP trying to control the UK's borders, only to withdraw the single after being accused of racism for singing in a Jamaican accent
7/18 Janice Atkinson
Janice Atkinson, Ukip's South East chair, pictured by protesters while campaigning in Ashford, Kent with local party chair Norman Taylor
8/18 Ukip cancels Freephone
Ukip cancels Freephone number after protesters repeatedly called to push up costs
9/18 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Mr Farage appeared to be caught out on a number of issues, from Romanian neighbours to people speaking foreign languages on the train
10/18 Ukip employs illegal immigrants
Ukip criticised after European election candidate found employing illegal immigrants
11/18 Magnus Nielsen
Ukip candidate: 'Take away the right to vote to improve election turnout'
12/18 Poster model
A “British builder” portrayed in a Ukip poster accusing EU workers of taking UK jobs turns out to be an Irish actor - aka a migrant worker
13/18 'Arrest protesters'
Ukip called for police to arrest protesters ‘who call us fascists’ ahead of showdown with anti-fascist groups in Brighton
14/18 London Live make-up
Ukip's Nigel Farage reportedly refused to go on London Live 'without professional make up-artist'
15/18 Andre Lampitt
Ukip forced to suspend the "poster boy" of its European election broadcast, after it was revealed he had posted a series of vile racist comments on Twitter
Nigel Farage says he is taking taking legal advice over “outrageous” allegations that he is responsible for more than £50,000 of “missing” EU funding that was paid directly into his personal bank account
17/18 Have I Got News For You
Nigel Farage appears in Have I Got News For You, spends the entire episode being ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
18/18 Anti-gay comments
Local branch chairman for Ukip defends a party's councillor candidate Douglas Denny who called gay people “abnormal” and said he wished “they stop trying to ram it down my throat”, all while discussing whether the word “sodomite” should be used
Meanwhile, a poll of 502 17-22 year olds by Opinium for The Observer found that Labour enjoyed an eight-point lead over the Tories among the age group when it came to May's general election, ahead by 26 per cent to 18 per cent.
But of the 17 per cent who said they would vote outside the main three Westminster parties, almost seven in ten (69 per cent) intend to give their support to the Green Party with only 16 per cent choosing Ukip.
And young people were also found to be predominantly pro-European, with 67 per cent saying they would vote to remain a member state.
Finally, they were unimpressed by Mr Farage as a leader, with only 13 per cent agreeing that he did a good job and 64 per cent disagreeing – a net negative rating that was even worse than Nick Clegg’s.