Ukip boss Gerard Batten quits EU group after fresh attack from Nigel Farage
Ukip leader Gerard Batten has dramatically quit the European Parliament grouping dominated by figures from his own party after Nigel Farage criticised him.
Mr Batten said he was unable to remain in the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy alliance while Mr Farage - the president of the group and a former boss of Ukip - “launches continual attacks on me”.
It came after Mr Farage - who quit the party earlier this week - told PoliticsHome Mr Batten was “Ukip’s Corbyn” and would damage the anti-EU outfit through his tie-up with far-right activist Tommy Robinson.
Several top Ukip figures have quit the party over fears he is taking the party in an anti-Islam direction and after he appointed Mr Robinson - an EDL founder and ex-BNP member - as a political advisor.
Mr Farage said bringing the highly controversial activist on board will “put a glass ceiling on the thing and the people he attracts will turn Ukip into the BNP”.
He said Mr Batten would “damage Ukip” and give an “appalling impression” of what Brexit is when he joins Mr Robinson at a pro-Brexit rally on Sunday.
And he added: “This is Ukip’s Corbyn. This is somebody who sat on our backbenches for a quarter of a century, disagreed with almost every single policy the party ever put forward, has never been promoted by any leaders, and suddenly he takes the party over.”
In a surprise statement this afternoon, Mr Batten said: “I hereby resign membership of the EFDD group with immediate effect.
“It is not possible for me to remain in the group when the president of the group Mr Farage launches continual attacks on me and Ukip in the UK media.”
The EFDD is a populist group of anti-EU figures and previously boasted 24 Ukip MEPs among its ranks.
But many have quit the Ukip banner to sit as independents in protest at the direction of the party under Mr Batten.
Today former leader Paul Nuttall became the latest MEP to quit Ukip, and he was joined by Scottish Ukip leader David Coburn.