Breitbart London’s editor in chief and UKIP leadership hopeful Raheem Kassam has renewed his calls for unity within the party, issuing an open call to all party members to “either get together or get lost”.
His comments made last night on Channel 4 News, follow an altercation at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, between two UKIP MEPs which saw one of them, leadership contender Steven Woolfe, hospitalised.
“I think it is a dark day for the MEPS, for the UKIP MEPS. I don’t think anybody can be proud nor should anybody be boasting about this, or thinking that this is going to somehow endear people to UKIP,” Kassam told Channel 4’s Jon Snow.
“I would also say, however, that it is not a solitary UKIP thing. You remember the Labour Party MP Eric Joyce, in 2012, had this – you’ve had members of the Conservative Party engaging in fisticuffs in Parliament as well.
“These things can happen, it’s a very human thing to happen when you don’t have a leader, when you don’t necessarily have a raison d’être, when things are a little bit in existential crisis, then passions can overflow.”
“I think both of these two men, again to echo what Michael [Hookem, the other party in the altercation] said we don’t know truly what happened, but I think both of these two men will look back on this and think ‘that did not reflect well on me or my party’.”
In-fighting broke out again following the incident after Neil Hamilton, the leader of UKIP in the Welsh Assembly, told BBC News that Mr. Woolfe had “picked a fight […] and came off worse.”
In response, major party donor Arron Banks issued a statement threatening to leave the party “If Neil Hamilton and [UKIP MP] Douglas Carswell remain in the party, and the NEC [National Executive Committee] decide that Steven Woolfe can not run for leader.”
Mr. Banks called for new elections to the NEC as well as for leader, adding: “it is clear that we ourselves, are at breaking point.”
Kassam told Snow that he could “sympathise” with Banks’ position, saying: “when Neil Hamilton uses this incident – while Steven Woolfe is laying in a hospital – to attack the party leader, to attack different figures in the party, this is the exact problem we’re talking about.”
But he added that he did not sympathise with the tone Banks had employed in his statement, calling for more reconciliatory action all round.
“If today has taught us anything, it’s that we need to take a step back, we need to reflect very seriously not just on this incident and what it means, but we need to reflect on who we are as a political party, what we are as a movement, what we stand for, what we’re going to do going forward, and start positively campaigning on those issues remembering we’re all on the same side,” he said.
He added firmly: “This is an open call to all UKippers out there: either get together or get lost.”
On Sunday it emerged, via a new book, that Douglas Carswell had defected from the Conservatives in 2014 not because he shared UKIP’s aims, but to infiltrate the party to “neutralise” leader Nigel Farage. The revelation confirmed suspicions that many, including Kassam, had had about his motives.
Last night Kassam was unequivocal in setting out his solution for the party infighting, saying: “If you do want to solve this problem then you have to say to the people who aren’t Ukippers through and through, who have done things that are completely contrary to what the party has stood for for so long, you have to say to them: ‘Thank you for being in this party, but I’m afraid your services are no longer required.’”
Questions as to whether UKIP still has a purpose now that the Conservative Party is actively working towards taking Britain out of the European Union, Kassam said it does, namely: to represent working class interests.
“[L]ook at the party’s manifesto from 2015, how much it has influenced the government on issues like grammar schools,” he said.
“UKIP may well have been a single issue party once upon a time, it is not a single issue party any more, and it actually represents people way across the country who feel that they can’t vote for the Conservative Party and they can’t vote for the Labour Party because they’ve been left behind by Conservative and Labour governments. UKIP does have a serious raison d’être, we need to find it and project it”.