Breitbart London’s editor in chief Raheem Kassam has told CNN International the incident which resulted in UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe rushed to hospital in Strasbourg signals that it’s time for the party to grow up.
Speaking on The World Right Now, Kassam emphasised that the events which led to Woolfe collapsing in the European Parliament are still unclear, but pointed out that internal tensions within political parties are far from unique to UKIP.
Reports following the incident in Strasbourg suggested Woolfe, the favourite in the party’s leadership candidate, hit his head on a hard surface after an altercation with another UKIP MEP.
Speaking about infighting in the party, Kassam said: “I think we’ve all been guilty over the past few years especially of throwing around name-calling and this sort of thing and this incident today advises us very clearly that it’s time to grow up.”
The Breitbart London editor noted that disagreements within parties are far from unknown, and alluded to Labour MP Eric Joyce, who in 2012 attacked a number of MPs including Labour Assistant Whip Phil Wilson.
He said: “This is not something that is unique to UKIP. In 2012 you had a Labour party MP punching a Conservative party MP and a Labour Party MP in the House of Commons.”
Calling the incident in Strasbourg yesterday a “contemporary example of what UKIP’s problems are”, Kassam conceded that questions surrounding the party’s identity after the Brexit vote has raised tensions.
“There is an existential crisis in the party. It currently doesn’t know where it goes from here in a post-referendum world. The MEPs in Brussels and Strasbourg don’t know what they’re going to be doing for income in two years. There is no party leader. And so tensions are very much high at the moment inside the party and I’m afraid it looks like it’s spilled over into what I would describe as a very human event, a very regrettable event.”
Kassam stated that having both exchanged text messages with Woolfe and spoken to former UKIP leader Nigel Farage on the telephone just before going on air, the events of yesterday are still uncertain.
“There isn’t a clear idea of what happened yet, whether it was punching or pushing. Steven is understood to have fallen into a bar or a glass railing,” he disclosed.
Noting that Farage has announced an investigation into the episode, Kassam said the party can learn and move forward when the facts are ascertained, and urged people to avoid speculating or attributing blame in the meantime.
He said: “Let’s just wait till the facts come out, let’s ascertain some facts, let’s have an investigation, and then we can see how we can move positively forward as a party and avoid things like this in the future.”
This week the Breitbart London editor in chief threw his own hat into the ring for the UKIP leadership. Kassam says that he is the best-placed candidate to carry on the legacy of Farage, who grew the party from being a little-known fringe group to winning the European Parliamentary elections in the UK in 2014.
To continue Farage’s good work, which culminated in four million votes for the party in the 2014 General Election, Kassam outlines his vision for the party as “giving a voice to British people who had been left behind by the country’s embrace of globalism in recent decades.”