18/07/2017 17:40 BST

Ukip Frontrunner Will Not Make Anti-Islam Candidate His Deputy Should He Win Leadership

MEPs had threatened to quit should Anne Marie Waters become deputy leader.

JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images

The frontrunner in the Ukip leadership race will not make anti-Islam candidate Anne Marie Waters his deputy should he win the contest, HuffPost UK has been told.

London Assembly member Peter Whittle was reported to be considering the appointment to ensure he had the support of a wave of new members inspired to join the party by Waters anti-Islam rhetoric.

HuffPost UK revealed that 18 of Ukip’s 20 MEPs are prepared to quit the party should Waters win the leadership or become deputy, and meetings have taken place to discuss how to stop the former Labour member from seizing victory.

A spokesperson for Whittle has now confirmed he would not make Waters his deputy should he win the leadership.

The spokesperson said: “He’s had no discussion with her. The possibility of that happening is zero.

“People can be confident that he will not form a leadership team with Anne Marie Waters.”

Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Anne-Marie Waters with anti-Islam activists Tommy Robinson and Paul Weston at the launch of Pegida UK. 

Waters, who founded the Sharia Watch pressure group, has described Islam as “evil” and a “killing machine”, and teamed up with ex- EDL leader Tommy Robinson to form the anti-Islam group Pegida UK.

Ukip banned her from standing for the party in June’s General Election - but did not kick her out.

It has been reported that 1,000 new members joining Ukip in the month weeks has prompted fears of far-right activists attempting to take-over the party and install Waters as leader.

One source close to the top of the party said 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.”

Ukip’s General Election campaign focused on an ‘integration agenda’ as it struggled to find an identity following the UK’s vote to leave the EU in 2016.

Manifesto pledges included banning the full-face veil in public and mandatory checks on the genitals of young girls deemed to be at risk of female genital mutilation.

On Sunday, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the party would be “finished” if it becomes an anti-Islam movement.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Politics, Farage said: “If UKIP goes down the route of being a party that is anti the religion of Islam, then frankly it’s finished. I don’t think there’s any public appetite for that. There’s some, but it’s tiny in this country. The party would be finished.”

In an interview on the same show Waters, who launched her bid for the Ukip leadership at the end of last month, was asked whether she was “anti-Islam”,

She replied:“I don’t like the religion, no. And the thing is that a lot of people get confused on Islam and all Muslims. A lot of people think Islam equals all Muslims. It does not.”

She added:  “The religion, the scriptures and how it’s practised across most of the world, I find quite frankly abhorrent”.

Waters insisted “there are millions of people in this country who think as I do”.

As well as Whittle and Waters, MEP Bill Etheridge and London Assembly Member David Kurten have announced they intend to stand in the Ukip leadership contest.

Nominations for the leadership close on 28 July, and the result will be announced at Ukip’s conference in Torquay on September 29.