Ukip: Time for something quieter, says key donor
Two Farage aides booted out over party’s ‘poisonous’ hard-right direction
Nigel Farage: Ukip said yesterday Mr Farage’s senior adviser and party secretary would no longer represent it. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
Two aides to Ukip leader Nigel Farage have been forced out as the party is gripped by post-election infighting.
The UK Independence Party confirmed yesterday that Raheem Kassam, Mr Farage’s senior adviser, and Matthew Richardson, the party secretary, would no longer represent it. Both aides have been blamed by senior party figures for taking the party in a “poisonous” hard-right direction in the run-up to the general election.
Mr Kassam has been at Mr Farage’s side throughout the campaign. He was one of the driving forces behind controversial “shock and awe” tactics that led the Ukip leader to warn about foreigners with HIV coming to the UK and millions of immigrants from north Africa crossing the Mediterranean.
Mr O’Flynn broke cover in an interview with the London Times, in which he blamed failures in the party’s election campaign on Mr Farage’s aides.
Speaking later to Sky News, Mr O’Flynn said he supported Mr Farage’s leadership but wanted to call time on “poisonous” advisers who had tried to take the party in a hard-right, aggressive, direction similar to the US Tea Party movement.
The furore exploded in the days after the Ukip leader briefly stepped down after failing to win his South Thanet target seat, but then withdrew his resignation four days later, saying the national executive had overwhelmingly wanted him to stay.
This prompted calls for Mr Farage to honour his word and step aside from figures such as Stuart Wheeler, a major donor. However, his position was shored up by the release of several supportive statements from other donors, including Richmond Desmond, the Daily Express newspaper owner, and businessman Arron Banks.
A source with knowledge of Ukip’s internal politics said the root of the battle for the heart of the party is about the role to be played by Mr Farage in any EU referendum. Many Eurosceptics, including some within the Tories and Ukip, fear the prospect of Mr Farage being the voice of the out campaign, because he is too controversial.
Mr Wheeler, who has given hundreds of thousands of pounds to the party, told BBC Radio 5 Live that it was “time for something quieter” in terms of the Ukip leadership.
He said he thought Mr Farage was exhausted, in pain from back problems and should have stayed resigned, at least until a new contest could be held in the autumn.
Mr Wheeler said Mr Farage was too aggressive and divisive as the party headed into the crucial period before the EU referendum, which would give Ukip the opportunity to campaign for its main aim of leaving.
Hugh Williams, Ukip’s treasurer, backed Mr Wheeler, saying Mr Farage was the “best political performer in this country, but there has to come a time – and I think that time is probably now – when he has to let the party stand on its own two feet”.
– (Guardian service)