Controversial businessman Arron Banks is set to launch his own political party after being “suspended” from Ukip for saying Paul Nuttall “couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding”.
The insurance tycoon, who has ploughed more than a million pounds into Ukip since October 2014, this morning tweeted that he was no longer part of the party.
A source close to Banks told Huff Post UK the Bristol-based multimillionaire was now “100%” certain to start his own party.
A spokesman for Ukip claimed that Banks’s membership “lapsed at the beginning of the year”, but was unable to clarify if he had been suspended.
Banks’s right-hand man Andy Wigmore told The Huffington Post UK: “They chucked him out for bringing the party into disrepute.”
He added that the “Carswell wing of the party” supported Banks being suspended.
Banks has frequently clashed with Ukip’s only MP Douglas Carswell, and last month announced he would stand against the former Tory in the Clacton constituency at the next election.
As well as calling for Carswell to be kicked out of Ukip, Banks has repeatedly offered to take over the running of the party – which he has likened to a “jumble sale.”
Carswell himself appears to have enjoyed the development.
Banks had been invited to appear before Ukip’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) on March 27 to make his case, but declined the offer.
In a statement released through his Leave.EU group, Banks said: “The party has somehow managed to lapse my membership despite having given considerably more than the annual membership this year!
”On reapplying I was told the membership was suspended pending my appearance at the NEC meeting.
“Apparently my comments about the party being run like a squash club committee and Mr Carswell have not gone down well!
“I realise I was being unfair to squash clubs all over the U.K, and I apologise to them.
“We will concentrate on our new movement.”
Speaking to BBC News after Banks had revealed his suspension, Carswell said: “It’s always sad when UKIP loses of its 40,000 members,” but added: “I have no more say in NEC decisions at Ukip than I do in who gets a knighthood.”
When asked about the possibility of facing Banks in Clacton at the next General Election, he replied: “Each time I’ve stood there’ve been some wonderfully colourful characters on the ballot paper.
“I even had a chap who changed his name by deed poll to Lord Ha Ha Woof Woof. I’m sure at the next election there’ll be some colourful characters too - the more the merrier.”