Former Ukip donor Arron Banks accuses party of declaring 'war on Muslims'
Arron Banks has accused Ukip of declaring "war on Muslims" a day after announcing he will not be one of the party's candidates in the general election.
The millionaire former party donor hit out after Ukip placed a crackdown on female genital mutilation, a ban on full-face veils and Sharia Law courts and a block on new Islamist schools being opened at the heart of its general election manifesto.
Ukip bosses said the policies were aimed at improving "integration" in British society.
But Mr Banks - who performed a major U-turn yesterday by ditching his plan to run in Clacton - took to Twitter to make clear his opposition to the strategy.
Meanwhile, Ukip's deputy leader has said party boss Paul Nuttall will "probably" stand to become an MP.
Mr Nuttall yesterday ignited speculation that he would not put himself forward for a sixth time, telling reporters that Ukip leaders had “done quite well” outside the Commons.
Peter Whittle said his boss was still weighing up his options, and also denied that Mr Nuttall had locked himself in a room after a press launch in an apparent effort to avoid journalists’ questions.
“Paul is still thinking about it; he didn’t lock himself in a room. He was at a press conference yesterday with 50 or 60 members of the media and he went from the room and went to get into his car and go away,” Mr Whittle told the Today programme.
“Some people have got it in for Paul. It was a very important conference we had yesterday, very important press announcements, and of course what they want to do is trivialise it by looking at what went on afterwards or on the side.”
He added: “We had a leader in Nigel Farage, an incredibly effective one, who was leader while we had an MP in parliament.
“I’m sure Paul probably will stand but he is still thinking about it, as indeed am I.”
Mr Nuttall said yesterday lunchtime: “Ukip leaders have done quite well not being in parliament, haven’t they?”
The Ukip leader this year suffered a bruising defeat to Labour at a by-election in Stoke-on-Trent Central, triggered by the resignation of former MP Tristram Hunt.
Mr Whittle also defended the party's policies on burkas and FGM.
He said: "The burka is not something in the Koran, it’s not specified by the Koran, it’s a cultural practice. FGM is a cultural practice," he said.
“We have talked about these issues in Ukip for many years. [In] 2010 we actually had this in our manifesto, that we should ban face coverings - not, for example the headscarf, not those sorts of things at all, just purely the face covering, because we believe that is a literal barrier to integration in our society.
“We are actually, in this country, rather behind the curve on this. Because even the biggest party in the EU has called for an EU-wide ban on this.”