Ukip’s deputy leader has failed to explain how his party would implement its immigration policy and at one point even appeared to distance himself from it, during an interview on BBC’s Newsnight on Tuesday evening.
Mike Hookem was being grilled by Emily Maitlis over what she described as their “Islamophobic” stance on issues, including a pledge to screen immigrant for a “literalist and extremist interpretation of Islam”.
The Ukip number two blamed the “mainstream media” for the perception that his party was Islamophobic but was left floundering after Maitlis quoted three former leaders of the party who have all made the accusation.
She said: “By the mainstream media like Nigel Farage who said your party’s become too obsessed with Islam? He left. Or the ‘mainstream media like the leader of Ukip in the Welsh Assembly, who said ‘I didn’t join Ukip to be part of a far-right organisation’?
“This is not us, these are people who were your leaders.”
Hookem then went on to demand evidence of his party’s Islamophobic policies, prompting Maitlis to quote his own website to him.
She said: “A policy on your website says Ukip will end mass uncontrolled immigration using security-based screening, you’ll restrict limited migration from Islamic countries for those people, and these are your words, we can be as sure as possible do not follow a literalist and extremist interpretation of Islam.
“How do you screen people on whether or not they have a literalist interpretation of Islam?”
Hookem again floundered, saying “we need to check what their beliefs are when they’re coming into the country”.
Maitlis said: “And if they have a literal interpretation of Islam in their head or in their brain, they’ll not be allowed in?”
“Well that’s the policy, yeah,” replied Hookem.
The exchange prompted bemusement on social media, with one person suggesting Ukip was going to have to develop “some kind of mind-reading technique” at the UK’s borders.
Things went from bad to worse for Hookem when he appeared on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday morning and tried once again to distance himself from his own party’s policies.
Ukip are struggling to get their message across ahead of the European elections and are currently polling last, behind the SNP and the Greens.