EXCL Ukip down to one peer in House of Lords after fresh resignation over Tommy Robinson tie-up
Ukip has just one peer left in the House of Lords after the alliance between leader Gerard Batten and controversial far-right activist Tommy Robinson triggered a fresh resignation, PoliticsHome can reveal.
Lord Stevens quit the party last week over concerns it was becoming “anti-Muslim” and was “drifting away from its original purpose in life”.
His departure follows that of Lord Willoughby de Broke, who PoliticsHome revealed last week had also renounced the Ukip banner, and leaves just Lord Pearson as a Ukip peer.
Mr Batten has been hit by a wave of resignations in recent weeks by senior figures angry at his embrace of anti-Islam activist and ex-BNP member Mr Robinson - real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.
Former leader Nigel Farage, Scottish leader David Coburn and a string of MEPs are among those who have fled over concerns Mr Batten is obsessed with the controversial activist and the Muslim faith.
Lord Stevens confirmed he had resigned from Ukip and according to the Parliament website now sits as a ‘Conservative Independent’ peer.
He said he had “no problem” talking about Muslims and argued the country should be aware of “how many there are here” as well as “the gangs etc”.
But he added that Ukip should not “become anti-Muslim” and that those who follow the faith should be integrated into society.
He said he was concerned by “the company [Gerard Batten] keeps” and noted: “Ukip under Nigel achieved amazing results but is now drifting away from its original purpose in life.”
Lord Stevens originally sat as a Conservative when he joined the Lords in 1987 - but he was expelled from the party in 2004 when he signed a letter in support of Ukip. He joined Ukip in 2012 but quit last week.
It comes as David Kurten, the last remaining Ukip member in the London Assembly, teamed up with Peter Whittle, who quit the party earlier this month, in a new ‘Brexit Alliance Group’.
The pair were unable to work together on the assembly under the Ukip banner because a party needs at least two members to qualify as a group.
Last month Mr Batten appointed Mr Robinson as a political advisor on grooming gangs and prisons, sparking an exodus of senior Ukip figures including bosses from the party national executive.
Mr Batten failed to respond when contacted by PoliticsHome. Last week he said Mr Robinson was helping the party campaign on Brexit and insisted: "I am not obsessed with Islam."