Nigel Farage, the former leader of UKIP | John Thys/AFP via Getty Images
Nigel Farage quits UKIP
‘The very idea of Tommy Robinson being at the centre of the Brexit debate is too awful to contemplate,’ says Farage.
Updated 12/4/18, 7:46 PM CET
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has quit the party after disagreements with the current leadership.
Writing in the Telegraph on Tuesday evening, Farage said that “with a heavy heart, and after all my years of devotion to the party, I am leaving UKIP today. There is a huge space for a Brexit party in British politics, but it won’t be filled by UKIP.”
He said that “under Gerard Batten’s leadership … the party’s direction has changed fundamentally,” adding that Batten’s “obsession” with far-right activist Tommy Robinson “and fixation with the issue of Islam makes UKIP unrecognisable to many of us.”
Batten appointed Robinson — real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon — as an adviser on rape gangs and prison reform, much to the annoyance of Farage and others in UKIP. Batten on Monday survived a vote of no confidence in his leadership held by the party’s National Executive Committee.
The former leader of the extreme-right English Defence League, Robinson was jailed for 13 months in May for contempt of court, although his conviction was later quashed because of procedural concerns. He has also served prison terms for mortgage fraud and a passport offense.
Farage, who is also a member of the European Parliament, wrote Tuesday that “we are now just a few days away from the most ill-judged political event I have ever been aware of in British politics.