“Nigel Farage is right”, a senior party source told Breitbart Friday after the former UKIP boss said he was “appalled” by the party’s current leader appointing activist Tommy Robinson as an adviser, calling for Gerard Batten to be ousted and for a renewed focus on Brexit.
Under Mr Farage’s leadership, UKIP went to lengths to exclude and ban all former members of the English Defence League (EDL), who were known for rowdy street protests, and the openly racist British National Party (BNP).
Mr Robinson, whilst now a campaigner against racism and extremism, was briefly a BNP member as a young man and is perhaps best known for having founded and led the EDL before leaving the organisation, finding that it had been infiltrated by extremists.
He has not been approved as a party member but will advise Mr Batten on street grooming rape gangs and prison reform in a private capacity, which Mr Batten pointed out Robinson has “personal experience of,” on BBC news Friday.
Nigel Farage told LBC he will try to force Gerard Batten out of Ukip after the leader appointed Tommy Robinson as a "personal advisor".https://t.co/IzD8JNa9RP
— LBC (@LBC) November 23, 2018
Breitbart London spoke to an elected UKIP representative who backed Farage’s statements, and other sources inside the party claim a strong majority of MEPs are against allowing him in.
Yet a party insider who defended Batten’s decision argued for the party to include figures like Robinson to give them a boost after Brexit, and claimed there is a degree of class prejudice against him.
A senior party source told Breitbart London: “Nigel Farage is right. Right now, the party must focus on Brexit. In appointing the ex-leader of a proscribed organisation to be a special advisor, the current leader is ripping up the party rulebook and dividing us just when we need to unite against Mrs May’s Brexit betrayal.”
Update 1315 — Lord Pearson speaks
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the UKIP peer, told Breitbart London that he hopes Batten’s decision will swell the membership of UKIP. He said:
We wouldn’t have got or won the referendum without Nigel, but Gerard saved UKIP after a succession of leaders nearly sank it.
Under Gerard’s leadership our finances are sound; our membership and polling are going up.
I love Nigel like a brother, but I think Gerard is right to want a national debate about Islam, a far greater long term threat to our culture than Brexit, and to enlist Tommy’s knowledge and support to that end.
Of course the Brexit mess is upon us right now, so Gerard is also right to support Tommy at his march on 9th December .
I hope this will boost our membership still further; our politicians are swayed only by votes.
Read the original story below:
Former UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge, who left the party earlier this year over objections to Mr Batten’s leadership and ties with Robinson, said: “Following Nigel Farage’s intervention I hope… members will take action to finish the appalling reign of Gerard Batten.
“His attitude and approach have made the party toxic and he has damaged Brexit by sidelining its biggest electoral weapon.”
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) November 23, 2018
Farage told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday Mr Batten is “dragging us in a shameful direction” and argued that if UKIP continues to try to turn Mr Robinson into a “big player in the Brexit vote” then it was “finished.”
He said: “Gerard Batten has got this sort of fixation with Tommy Robinson and discussing Islam and dragging UKIP in a direction of effectively being sort of a street activist party right at the moment when we have a betrayal of Brexit going on by both the Conservative and Labour parties where UKIP’s got potential reach out among the electorate, the highest it’s ever been.
“It goes against all the things I did as leader, to say we will talk about immigration, we will talk about the extreme forms of Islam [and] we’ll do it as a non-racist, non-sectarian party. This blows a hole in all of that.”
Asked whether he thought the move to appoint Robinson would kill off UKIP, Farage said: “I haven’t given up yet.”
“I will be writing to the National Executive Committee of the party today and urging that we have a vote of no confidence in Gerard Batten as leader, that we get rid of him. I’ll be meeting the UKIP MEPs, those that haven’t already resigned, in Brussels on Wednesday next week.
“We’re going to have one last go at getting rid of somebody as leader who is dragging us in a shameful direction,” he added.
I share the concerns and objections voiced by Nigel Farage to the involvement of Tommy Robinson in UKIP at the invitation of Gerard Batten and so do the vast majority of longstanding UKIP members that I know. This issue is coming to a head very quickly now.
— Patrick O'Flynn (@oflynnmep) November 23, 2018
Earlier this week, the party’s Nation Executive Committee voted to delay a motion on Mr Robinson’s membership until after the official Brexit day on March 29.
UKIP Chairman Kirstan Herriot said on November 18: “Today, the UKIP NEC were presented with a motion proposed by our Leader, Gerard Batten to consider a ballot to members to allow the membership of Tommy Robinson.
“The NEC voted to defer the motion in light of the recent Brexit negotiations.”
Mr Batten accepted the decision of the NEC but has not backtracked on his ambition of including Mr Robinson, and the issue is likely to create splits after March next year.
Gerard Batten about to go live on the BBC News Channel. pic.twitter.com/U88V5fllQs
— UKIP (@UKIP) November 23, 2018
Mr Batten came out fighting Friday, writing on social media: “Nigel Farage has reportedly said on the radio this morning that the NEC should hold a vote of no confidence in me.
“This is the same NEC Nigel described as ‘low grade people’ and a ‘swamp that needed to be drained’. I will be in the media today commenting.”
Batten was appointed as UKIP leader after former leader Henry Bolton was pushed out in February following a scandal involving his personal life.
Many in the party expected a leadership contest after the official Brexit day in March, with some senior members already considering bids, Breitbart London understands. Tommy Robinson’s membership is likely to be a proxy issue in that contest.
Tommy Robinson Released on Bail and Referred to Attorney General, Will Be Cross Examined at Next Hearing https://t.co/DnvxncvAKd
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 23, 2018