Nigel Farage 'to form new party' if anti-Islam campaigner Anne Marie Waters wins Ukip leadership

Former leader believes the party is 'finished' if it becomes single-issue under Ms Waters

Rachel Roberts
Sunday 24 September 2017 21:08 BST
Nigel Farage is set to found a new party if Anne Marie Waters wins the Ukip leadership contest, insiders have claimed
Nigel Farage is set to found a new party if Anne Marie Waters wins the Ukip leadership contest, insiders have claimed (PA)

Nigel Farage is planning to launch a new, pro-Brexit party if the anti-Islam campaigner Anne-Marie Waters wins the Ukip leadership election next week, sources have claimed.

According to the Mail on Sunday, Mr Farage has told friends he will set up the breakaway party because he believes Ukip will be “finished” if Ms Waters takes charge.

The proposed new party is not yet believed to have a name but talks are reportedly under way with Ukip’s former chief donor Aaron Banks.

Now the bookies’ favourite to become Ukip’s fourth leader in the last year, Ms Waters is a director of pressure groups Sharia Watch and Pegida, which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West. Both are widely described as anti-Islam organisations, although Ms Waters insists it is not factually correct to label her as a "far right" candidate.

Ukip has seen its support fall away since the vote to leave the EU in June 2016. In the wake of this watershed moment, Ukip was largely seen as a party without a purpose, riven with infighting.

Speaking this weekend, Mr Banks said: “If Ms Walters becomes Ukip leader, all we ask is that she gives the party a decent burial.

“The country needs an effective political movement to stop May from selling out on the Brexit which British people voted for last year.”

Former Ukip leader Mr Farage – still regarded as the heart and soul of the party for many – is said to have booked a room in Strasbourg for next Monday, where he could launch his new party.

There was speculation Mr Banks would form a new party with his close ally Mr Farage when he announced he had been suspended by Ukip in March this year.

Mr Banks said: “Ukip started the ball rolling, but the world has moved on.

"With its remorseless infighting, and absence of a clearly defined mission, it is not fit to spearhead a great national movement in its current form. It’s too traditional.

"Structurally, it is a mess, held together by rubber bands and by the extraordinary stamina of one man, Nigel Farage. It is clear that something new is required.”

The proposed new party would be likely to target pro-Leave voters from both the Tories and Labour by providing a more radical vision for Brexit than either party is currently seen to offer.

Almost of all the party’s 19 other MEPs would be likely to join Mr Farage in a new party if Ms Water’s wins, with many expressing concerns the party could become a single-issue anti-immigration party under her leadership.

Some of the party's MEPs are still hoping Mr Farage will come back into the fold rather than start a new movement, with MEP Jane Collins saying on Twitter she would "immediately" stand aside in the leadership contest if he were to make another comeback.

Ms Waters has claimed “millions” of Britons agree with her view that Islam is “evil” and are worried about the creeping “islamification” of the UK.

Mr Farage has constantly criticised Prime Minister Theresa May since she came to power, accusing her of not having a clear vision for Brexit and of delaying the process through her desire for a transition period, which he believes is an attempt to keep the UK in the EU “by the back door”.

He was succeeded as Ukip leader by Diane James, who lasted just 18 days before she quit saying she did not have the backing of key figures in the party.

Paul Nutall then took over following a bitter battle, but lasted just six months following a disastrous performance at this year’s general election when the party’s share of the vote tumbled from almost 13 per cent in 2015 to less than two per cent.

The result of the Ukip leadership contest will be announced at the party’s conference next Friday, with former London mayoral contender Peter Whittle the second favourite behind Ms Waters.

Mr Farage was not immediately available for comment.

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