Ukip MEP quits key party role over anti-Islam leadership candidate
A senior Ukip MEP has resigned as deputy whip in the European Parliament over party support for an anti-Islam campaigner.
Mike Hookem quit his post after chief whip Stuart Agnew outlined his backing for Sharia Watch founder Anne Marie Waters to become the next Ukip leader.
Ms Waters has since been confirmed as one of the 11 candidates up for election to take on the role, after passing an external vetting process.
But Mr Hookem said he “could not turn a blind eye to extreme views" in response to party support for the campaigner, who is on record as having called Islam “evil”.
In a letter to acting Ukip leader Steve Crowther, he said he was disturbed by comments made by Mr Agnew that he "looks forward to telling his grandchildren in the future how he helped in the fight against Muslims," and would keep a scrapbook of communications from those who disagreed.
“Let Agnew add this to his scrapbook! I strongly disagree with the views Ms Waters and Mr Agnew promote and I would like to put as much distance between me and them as possible," he said.
"If I were to continue in my position of Deputy Whip, I would be seen as supporting or at the very least turning a blind eye to extreme views and this is not something I am prepared to do."
"I am not a racist and have never campaign on race issues. While I do believe in controlled immigration, this position is about "space rather than race"; and I am not prepared to support someone who seeks to single out [one] section of our society simply due to their religious beliefs."
Mr Hookem added that he did not think any of the candidates “measure up to what is, and will continue to be an extremely difficult job”.
"Examining the Candidates CVs, I feel none have the 'tools in the box' that are required and many I think have confused ability with ambition," he said.