EXCL Ukip foreign affairs chief quits amid growing revolt against party's 'war on Muslims'
Ukip foreign affairs spokesman Jim Carver dramatically quit his post today amid a growing backlash against a raft of policies announced by Paul Nuttall yesterday that appeared to target Muslims.
The West Midlands MEP said he “strongly disagreed” with the “misguided policy” to ban the burka and said he could not support that or other plans announced by party leader Mr Nuttall yesterday.
PoliticsHome understands more than half a dozen Ukip MEPs could withdraw support for Mr Nuttall in protest at the “vile” policies.
The revolt is the latest blow to Mr Nuttall's fledgling leadership.
Top figures in the party were left outraged by the “grossly insensitive” manifesto pledges, which also included forcing girls to have annual medical checks to root out female genital mutilation, and the banning of Sharia courts.
Some MEPs were not even fully consulted before the policies were announced by Mr Nuttall and his deputy Peter Whittle yesterday.
Mr Carver quit at midday today saying of the burka ban: "No-one has the right to dictate what people should wear."
He added: "This policy undermines my desire to represent all communities within the West Midlands, including the many British Muslims, who I know from first-hand experience, voted to leave the EU in last year’s referendum."
One MEP told PoliticsHome: "I probably agree with almost every other word of the manifesto but the policy announcements yesterday I don’t support."
Another MEP added: “I consider the policies to be authoritarian, grossly insensitive and targeting one particular group within society to the point of persecution.
“It’s vile and it’s not something that I can possibly defend. I’m not alone in that feeling...
"At least half a dozen MEPs are considering withdrawing support from the leadership of the party and across the country. There’s a groundswell of unhappiness."
The source said there would be “some settling of accounts” after the 8 June vote, adding: “This is all tarnishing us."
The Ukip plan - which also includes a block on new Islamic schools have already drawn the ire of multimillionaire former Ukip donor Arron Banks, who accused the party of declaring “war on Muslims”.
But Ukip bosses said the policies were aimed at improving "integration" in British society.
Mr Whittle said this morning: "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.
“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.”