Ukip’s foreign affairs spokesman has resigned over the party’s pledge to ban the Muslim face veil, saying: “No-one has the right to dictate what people should wear.”
James Carver said the policy “undermined my desire to represent all communities”.
The West Midlands MEP said:
“I would be one of the first to condemn a ban on wearing a crucifix as an infringement of liberty. No-one has the right to dictate what people should wear.
“When facial identification is necessary, such as at passport controls, or in a bank, then it is perfectly reasonable to order the removal of veils, as is the practice, but in a free and liberal society, people have a right to their religious beliefs, and to dress as they see fit.
“It is, therefore, with deep regret, that I have decided to resign as UKIP’s Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs spokesman, as I feel 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.
“This week sees the 21st anniversary of my UKIP membership, the party that I have campaigned so hard for, and still believe in. I have consistently spoken of my desire for a truly global perspective for the United Kingdom, outside of the European Union, and I see this policy as being incompatible with that aim.”
He stopped short of resigning from the party.
The veil ban was announced on Monday as part of a new “integration agenda”, which also included compulsory medical examination of girls deemed at risk of female genital mutilation.
Carver said he “strongly disagreed” with the “misguided policy”, which Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas called “full throttled Islamophobia”.
She added: “Now that the referendum has passed, Nuttall’s party is desperately scrabbling around for relevance and seem to have settled upon attacks on Muslims and fringe far-right politics as their new home.”
The agenda was launched at an event in London that descended into farce. The party had to clarify its burka ban would not prevent beekeepers wearing protective gear.
Party leader Paul Nuttall, who failed to be elected to parliament just two months ago, hid himself in a room to escape reporters who kept asking whether he would stand in the general election.