The UK Independence Party (UKIP) must come together to speak up for the good of the hard-working people of Britain following the Brexit vote, Breitbart London’s editor in chief Raheem Kassam has told the BBC.
Laying out his vision for the party following its success in leading Britain out of the European Union (EU), an objective explicitly held by the party since its inception more than 20 years ago, Kassam said the party must now start giving a voice to British people who had been left behind by the country’s embrace of globalism in recent decades.
It was this vision which encouraged him to throw his hat in the ring for the leadership, he told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight.
“I looked at the last election, the last UKIP leadership election, and unfortunately it ended up with Diane James only serving 18 days. I fully appreciate that she meant well taking the job but was unable to do it for personal reasons.
“Then I looked at the candidates in the infighting and a lack of focus on policy […]
“People are asking out there the really important question: Brexit has happened – what is UKIP? And so we need to provide them with answers to those questions – not bicker amongst ourselves.”
He conceded that the party had “lost its way a little bit in recent weeks”, precipitated in large part by the departure of Nigel Farage from the leadership role after nearly a decade in the position.
Farage grew the party from being a little-known fringe group to winning the European Parliamentary elections in the UK in 2014. It also garnered four million votes at the last general election, putting the party in third place overall with 12.6 per cent of the vote.
“It’s very difficult to get over someone like Nigel Farage,” Kassam admitted. But, as someone who had worked closely with Farage in the run-up to the general election in May 2015 and beyond, he said that he was “the person that can deliver that legacy”.
— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) October 5, 2016
Kassam urged unity in the party as a central plank of his vision, confirming that he has spoken to party colleagues Steven Woolfe MEP and London Assembly member Peter Whittle about running a joint campaign.
“I think it’s important to remember first and foremost that we all back the same party. We cannot become, like the last time around, a circular firing squad. We’ve all got to get around the table and discuss these things.”
Underlining his commitment to party unity he added: “When I launched my leadership campaign earlier today I launched alongside a ‘clean campaign’ pledge. I don’t want us to be attacking one another again; it didn’t work last time it’s not going to work this time.
“We need to talk about policies. We need to talk about what we stand for, who we are.”
Kassam dismissed the idea that Breitbart was, as the New York Times put it: “a curiosity of the fringe right wing, responsible for material that’s been called misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist, and a potent voice the Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” or that in taking control of UKIP he would be exporting Trumps’ allegedly divisive policy positions to the UK.
“I would argue that, actually, Donald Trump is following in the footsteps of Brexit rather than the other way around,” Kassam said.
“I think when you look at border control – which is one of the top issues – when you look at all sorts of issues around national sovereignty, democracy, localism, putting power back into the hands of hard-working British people who have been wronged for so long, these are things that he’s picking up from us, we’re not going to be picking them up from him.”
Reaffirming his commitment to clean politics he added: “I appreciate that the New York Times, which is maybe not fringe but is certainly a bastion of hard leftism describes me and my outlet as on the right, and disparages us for that.
“But you know I thought politics was about helping people and that’s what I’m interested in. I’m not interested in bickering with people about these things.”