Former Ukip deputy chair Suzanne Evans quits party over Tommy Robinson appointment
Former Ukip deputy chair Suzanne Evans has quit the party over the appointment of right-wing activist Tommy Robinson as an adviser.
The party’s former health spokeswoman – who wrote the party's 2015 manifesto – said she had cancelled her membership following a refusal from party chiefs to call a vote of no confidence in Ukip leader Gerard Batten.
Mr Batten was facing calls to stand down over his decision to appoint Mr Robinson – a prominent anti-Islam activist and former leader of the English Defence League – as an adviser on rape gangs and prison reform.
In a statement, Ms Evans slammed the Ukip leader for the “perverse direction” said said he was taking the party in, saying: "Enough is enough."
Ms Evans added: "I was hoping, yesterday, that sense would prevail; that Ukip’s National Executive Committee would call for a ‘no confidence’ vote in Batten, so the party could be prevented from taking a devastatingly wrong turn.
"But if even those elected to represent ordinary members won’t protect Ukip from a leader who appears hell bent on destroying it from within, then there is no hope left.”
"As the NEC’s abject failure of responsibility follows hot on the heels of a similar failure by Ukip’s remaining MEPs to force the issue, I feel I have no option but to join the thousands of other good, decent former Ukip members in walking out of the door in disgust at the radical change in Ukip’s direction."
Ms Evans, who also stood for the party's leadership in 2016, added: "The NEC and Ukip MEPs might be willing to turn a blind eye to the obvious attempts by Gerard and Tommy Robinson to orchestrate a ‘Momentum-style’ takeover of Ukip, but I am not.
"Having planned to simply let my membership lapse in March, when it is due for renewal, I have today cancelled it instead."
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage had encouraged the no confidence vote in Mr Batten over his decision to appoint Tommy Robinson as a personal adviser and threatened to walk from Ukip were he to stay on.
But an urgent meeting of the party’s national executive on Sunday voted “overwhelmingly” to reject the option of a ballot on Mr Batten’s leadership.
Mr Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – was sentenced to 13 months' in prison for contempt of court earlier this year after he filmed members of a grooming case during the trial.
The case was eventually quashed but has now been referred to the attorney general for review.