Ukip donor warns about possible demise of party

Contenders in destructive leadership race include Paul Nuttall and John Rees-Evans

Ukip  donor Arron Banks said Nigel Farage’s departure had “caused the pressure cooker to explode”. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Ukip donor Arron Banks said Nigel Farage’s departure had “caused the pressure cooker to explode”. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

 

Ukip’s biggest donor has warned that the party could be about to die, adding that he is unable to support any of the candidates to succeed Nigel Farage as leader.

Arron Banks said Mr Farage’s departure had “caused the pressure cooker to explode”, with rivalry among the party’s factions threatening to destroy it.

“It’s at a crossroads. I think at the moment we have to wait and see if it stabilises itself and elects a credible leader,” Mr Banks told the BBC.

Mr Farage returned as Ukip’s interim leader last month after his successor, Diane James, resigned after 18 days. Steven Woolfe, an early front-runner, withdrew and resigned from the party after he was hospitalised following a physical altercation with another Ukip MEP at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The current front-runner is Paul Nuttall, a former deputy leader of the party, whose strongest challenger is current deputy leader Suzanne Evans, who was suspended from the party until recently after falling out with Mr Farage.

London assembly member Peter Whittle, who stood for Ukip in this year’s mayoral contest in the city, is also a candidate.

Gay donkey

The fourth contender is John Rees-Evans, who once claimed that a gay donkey tried to rape his horse. Mr Rees-Evans, who later admitted that the story was untrue, made the claim in 2014 when asked a question about whether some gay men preferred sex with animals.

“Actually, I’ve witnessed that. I’ve got a horse and it was there in the field. And a donkey came up . . . which was male, and I’m afraid tried to rape my horse,” he said.

He said that his horse, a stallion, responded by biting the donkey.

At a hustings in London this week, Mr Rees-Evans said that paedophiles should face the death penalty, unless their victims “looked 18”.

Mr Nuttall said he supported a return of the death penalty for child killers, a position which is in line with official Ukip policy. He said the next leader should prioritise fighting radical Islamism, a view endorsed by the other candidates.

“We need to tackle radical Islam. We need to say no to Sharia courts in our towns and cities and no to any Saudi funding of mosques in our country,” Mr Nuttall said.

Young minds

Ms Evans, who is perceived as the most moderate of the candidates said that Ukip members, often known as “kippers”, should train to become teachers in order to influence young minds.

“I think I’d like to start, actually – because young minds are formed in schools – with our national curriculum. It doesn’t teach you to be proud of Britain any more. It doesn’t teach you about the great advances that we’ve made as a country. It seems to teach about the negative stuff,” she said.

“I do think it starts with education, very definitely. Paul talked earlier about getting rid of the Labour Party – somehow I think we need to start getting good ‘kippers’ into teaching.”

Ukip’s next leader will be chosen by party members, with the result due to be announced on November 28th.