UKIP MEPs are holding an emergency meeting in Brussels in a desperate attempt to block a far-right anti-Islam campaigner winning the party’s leadership
The controversial Anne Marie Waters - backed by former EDL leader Tommy Robinson - is believed to be gaining support in the race to succeed Paul Nuttall as Ukip leader.
There are fears that far-right activists have joined the party in order to instill Waters - who has described Islam as “evil” and a “killing machine” - as the new leader.
Ahead of the MEP meeting this afternoon, Waters sent a letter to Ukip chairman Paul Oakden demanding an explanation for why the party’s ruling committee discussed blocking her candidacy at a meeting in June.
HuffPost UK revealed earlier this month that all but two of Ukip’s 20 MEPs would be prepared to quit the party should she win the contest, and today around a dozen Parliamentarians are meeting to plot their next move.
A source told HuffPost UK: “They are discussing what to do, and could decide to put up just one candidate against her for all the MEPs to back.”
However, the anti-Waters vote is in danger of being split, as the party’s current Deputy Leader Peter Whittle is set to formally launch his leadership bid in Westminster on Wednesday.
The source said the MEPs would be reluctant to get behind Whittle as they “don’t like” the former London Mayor candidate.
Waters, who founded the Sharia Watch pressure group, teamed up with ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson to launch the anti-Islam group Pegida UK in 2016.
In a letter to the Ukip chairman Paul Oakden and interim leader Steve Crowther, Waters asked for clarity on what the cut off point was for new members to vote in the leadership contest.
I note with interest the minutes of the UKIP NEC meeting held on June 12th 2017.
I note in particular motion 9, which reads:
Motion 9: The NEC interprets the Party Constitution as saying that new members must join by August 6th in order to be eligible to vote at the Leadership Election. Proposed by KF, seconded by SC. Carried by 7-1 (EJ) with no abstentions.
In recent weeks however, it has become apparent that members of the public are regularly informed by Ukip that in order to be eligible to vote in the leadership contest, one must have been a member by June 23rd.
Could you please explain this discrepancy and clarify this matter.
I also note the following sentence contained within the minutes:
If you blocked Anne-Marie Waters for whatever reason, it would require explanation.
Can you please explain this? Why is the NEC holding discussions on blocking a candidate and on what grounds?
I shall of course seek legal advice on the above matters. I have wide support not only among new members but among old, and I therefore have a reasonable expectation of fair dealings.
Ukip’s third leadership election in a year was triggered when Nuttall quit the day after the General Election, in which the party failed to win any MPs and picked up just 594,000 votes - a huge drop from the 3.9million it secured in 2015.
Nigel Farage is not seeking to become leader for a fourth time, leaving the field wide open for Whittle and Waters.
The Guardian has reported that 1,000 new members joining Ukip in the past two weeks has prompted fears of far-right activists attempting to take-over the party.
One source close to the top of the party told HuffPost UK earlier this month that while new people are signing up, others are quitting.
“All the decent people have been leaving,” they said, adding: “The party’s being taken over by the Brownshirts Momentum.”
Nominations for the leadership close on 28 July, and the result will be announced at Ukip’s conference in Torquay on September 29.