UKIP leadership hopeful and Breitbart London Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam has pitched himself as the Farage continuity candidate, accusing his fellow runners of plotting to undermine outgoing leader Nigel Farage.
Farage has been the immensely popular face of UKIP since first taking over as leader a decade ago, and is widely credited with both taking UKIP to third place in the last Parliamentary elections and securing the historic referendum which saw Brits opt to leave the European Union this summer.
Despite this legacy, Kassam has claimed that Nuttall and another MEP met in Brussels last week “to agree they would depose Nigel” as co-president of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group of Eurosceptic parties, which includes UKIP.
“It means that Nigel would not have an income. It means that Nigel would not have a security team. They’re basically trying to have Nigel Farage put in a position where his life is on the line,” he told the Sunday Times.
Nuttall has denied the claim, insisting it is “absolute nonsense”.
The three front-running candidates – Kassam, Nuttall and Suzanne Evans have all pledged to try to get Farage a place in the House of Lords if elected as leader of UKIP, but it is Kassam who is understood to be Farage’s preferred successor. Describing himself as the “Farage-est” of the candidates, he also has the backing of major UKIP and Leave.eu donor Arron Banks.
“I would reject [that] I am his ‘Mini Me’ but I will openly hug the political and cultural philosophy of Faragism. I love a PFL”, Kassam said. ‘PFL’ is Farage’s term for a ‘proper fucking lunch’.
He added: “I’d love to put [Farage] in the House of Lords. I’d love him to be Sir Nigel Farage as well. I’ve committed to making him honorary president of the party. I’m the only one who has done that. The others haven’t done that. I think they wish he was dead, I really, really do.”
Evans has claimed that the well-documented animosity between herself and Farage is now forgotten, but it’s a claim which Kassam severely disputes. Evans now works for Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s only sitting MP, who Kassam identified as a Conservative infiltrator intent on undermining Farage months before this was proved to be the case.
“[Evans is] the biggest liar I have ever met in my life,” he said. “I’ve got a clean campaign pledge on my website and if you hear anything negative about my rivals you’ll hear it from my mouth, not through background briefings.”
“I am saying this, Raheem Kassam is saying this, you’ve got it on record. She’s the biggest liar I’ve ever met in my life. She’s told lies about how deep her falling-out with Nigel was. She goes on TV and says it wasn’t that bad. Nigel hasn’t spoken to her in years. The falling out is irreparable. She’s a nasty, nasty human being.”
Evans in turn has branded Kassam of the “far right”, but rejects the charge. “I am the son of immigrant parents. I’ve suffered racial abuse. I know what real Islamophobia is like. Just last week a Labour ‘leave’ guy said to me, ‘No white person is going to vote for you.’ That was some real racial abuse,” he said.
The son of devout Muslims, Kassam was branded an apostate at Westminster University, where he studied two years above the notorious Islamic State executioner Mohammed Emwazi. “I know radical Islam like no one else knows radical Islam,” he said.
Four days ago Evans ducked out of a chance to debate Kassam on live radio, saying only that she “didn’t like” him as a person. In a car-crash interview published today she also claimed to be “delighted” that Christians are now being challenged in the courts over their beliefs.