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20 Mar, 2017 16:53

UKIP needs no Banks: Leaked Euroskeptics’ docs show deep party rift

UKIP needs no Banks: Leaked Euroskeptics’ docs show deep party rift

Leaked minutes from a UK Independence Party (UKIP) meeting show the leadership dismissing the defection of its one-time main donor, Arron Banks.

The revelations come as a feud between the party’s leading figures spirals out of control, with the suspension of Banks and the pitching of former leader Nigel Farage against the group’s only MP Douglas Carswell.

The alleged minutes from an East Midlands regional chairmen’s meeting were passed on to the editors of the Guido Fawkes political satire website.

“[Arron Banks] is not a UKIP member,” the document states. “He’s not given any money since the General Election.

“The party has not received any money from [Arron Banks] in the last 12 months. His money is useful but UKIP will survive without his money.”

The notes also state that the party’s number one donor is Kent businessman Alan Brown, who “bailed” the party out in 2016. The party’s former treasurer and financier, Start Wheeler, is identified as “another key donor.”

Banks, who recently said on social media that he might well start a new party named UKIP 2.0, handed the Euroskeptics an estimated £1 million ($1.25mn). He spent a further £7.5 million ($9.27mn) on Farage’s Leave campaign.

However, UKIP figureheads don’t seem to trust Bank’s political acumen, saying during the meeting: “Setting up a new party is fraught with difficulties. It is not going to happen.”

The document goes on to note that current leader Paul Nuttal is “supported by four major donors.”

“If Paul stays as leader and he will, another £100,000 is pledged,” it added.

Social media causes ‘grief’

The leaked notes were also telling when it comes to the party’s new censorship of its main members’ social media use.

Following the very public fallout between Banks and Carswell earlier this month, the party’s chairman, Paul Oakden, decided to order local council candidates to “close their accounts.”

“We should all stay off social media,” the document reads.

“Paul Oakden hates social media. All candidates should close their accounts. It just causes more grief.

“NO-ONE is to go online and say negative things about UKIP – it is pointless. Aaron Banks tweets were not helpful or necessary.”

Ironically, the document itself was meant to be kept secret, with an introductory remark noting: “Remember do not put this online – that’s forbidden!”

Carswell not against immigration enough

Outside of UKIP’s behind the scenes machinations, Farage kept pushing a seeming anti-Carswell agenda, saying the party’s only MP was not anti-immigration enough.

“The time has now come to have a clean break. To make sure we don’t have influences like Carswell taking us away from the key arguments like immigration,” the one-time leader told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday.

“There have been some in UKIP who want to turn us into a mainstream political party with very bland messages and I would say UKIP is a radical party or it is nothing.

“This question of immigration is still the number one issue in the minds of voters in this country. UKIP must not be squeamish about it,” Farage added.

“People like Douglas Carswell wrote in the Times last year we should not make immigration synonymous with EU membership. I thought, ‘Crikey, I have spent 10 years trying to do that very thing.’”

Sources told the Guardian that Farage has been yearning to kick Carswell – a former Conservative MP – out of UKIP since 2015.

“The matter of whether a party member remains a member of the party is a matter for the [national executive committee],” an anonymous UKIP member said.

“Nigel said this morning he wanted to expel Douglas in 2015. But it was impossible to do, because the party leader does not have that power. Neither does Paul Nuttall. It is not in Paul’s gift, because if a party leader had that sort of power, the possibility of dictatorial control would be appalling.

“That’s why all parties have processes and systems to ensure fair play. There is no formal process to kick [Carswell] out of the party or discipline him, it is a fact-finding exercise,” they continued.