POLITICS

Arron Banks's Bid To Take Over Ukip In The Wake Of General Election Campaign 'Chaos' Revealed

Businessman set out his plan to run the party in a private email to treasurer

07/04/2016 18:59
Ben Birchall/PA Archive
Arron Banks, left, with Ukip leader Nigel Farage

Businessman Arron Banks made an audacious bid to take over the running of Ukip in the wake of last year’s General Election disappointment, Huff Post UK can reveal.

The multi-millionaire, who helped bankroll the party’s election campaign, attacked the “chaos” of Ukip’s internal structure in an email sent to then-treasurer Andrew Reid.

Banks describes Ukip leader Nigel Farage as a “genius”, but claims he was let down by the “appalling” party organisation.

He offered to take over as Ukip’s chief executive and make “sweeping changes” – including creating a “smaller tightly knit team” at the top of the party answering to him

Yet just weeks after making the offer to run the UK’s third largest party, Banks claimed he was “non-political” as he set up the anti-EU campaign TheKnow.EU – which later became Leave.EU.

The revelation that Banks was secretly maneuvering to take over Ukip led one party insider to tell the Huff Post UK: “This email is extremely revealing.

“Suddenly a lot of the behaviour that seemed irrational makes sense.”

Banks sent the email on May 10 2015, just three days after the General Election and less than 24 hours before Farage ‘unresigned’ as Ukip leader.

Earlier this week, the Huff Post UK revealed Banks is being lined up as chairman of the party after the EU Referendum on June 23.

In his email, the insurance tycoon sets out the kind of structure he would implement if he were in charge of Ukip in order to create a “well oiled machine.”

Banks also talks up the success of the Liberal Democrats at local level, arguing the party should “replicate the Lib Dem campaigning strategy” in Ukip “footholds.”

It is not clear how seriously Banks’ offer was taken by Ukip, but Reid left his position as party treasurer not long after the email was sent.

Since the election, Banks has taken a central role in the campaign to get the UK out of the EU.

He was one of the founders of Leave.EU, which Farage originally backed to get the designation as the official ‘Leave’ group in the referendum campaign.

However, after numerous attempts at a merger with rival Eurosceptic group Vote Leave failed, Banks began bankrolling Grassroots Out – a campaign founded by Tory MPs Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone, and Labour MP Kate Hoey.

Banks has repeatedly clashed with two of the people running Vote Leave – Matthew Elliot and Dominic Cummings.

In an email sent to Tory MPs in February, Banks described them as “two of the nastiest individuals I have ever had the misfortune to meet.”

He also branded Ukip’s only MP Douglas Carswell – who is backing Vote Leave to get designation as the official Leave campaign – as  “borderline autistic with mental illness wrapped in.”

A Ukip spokesman told the Huff Post UK: “We know of no such offer.

“If one happened it was between the two of them and has never been discussed at any formal level in the party.”

Banks replied to a Twitter message from the Huff Post UK asking why nothing came of the offer and if it was still standing by saying he was out of the country and had wifi but no access to a phone.

Key quotes from the email:

“Every by-election will be a massive opportunity (17 since 2010 - thats an average of 3 a year or every four months ) and UKIP in the driving seat.  Add council elections Welsh assembly etc - plus european referendum. The game plan is to get up to 6 to 8 MP in the next 5 years and be ready to take on labour.”

“I agreed to help you with the organisation in the run up to the election but the current structure is appalling and we did well in the election despite it. There was no point because it's chaos. We all got carried away and Nigel in fairness rode it until it bucked him!  He's a genius."

“The party has grown out of all proportion and the volunteer nature means competence is not always a quality valued."

“The structure needs a head or chief executive which then has each area report in 
Finance 
Campaigning 
PR / press 
Research area 
Website / social media 
Etc 
This might mean a smaller tightly knit team that is focused."

“My suggestion would be that I will become chief executive of the party , create a structure that means we transform it and turn it into a force to be reckoned with."

“I'm happy to spend time in London and get stuck into this - im currently paid a million pounds a year from my insurance businesses. So you get a million a year CEO for free - the aim is to have it running so smoothly I just oversee it .

“I hated losing in Thanet and I want Nigel and the party to achieve all it can. Also lets be frank the best time to make sweeping changes is now , the head office is not popular in the other areas and we need to change that.”

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