UKIP replaces leader Henry Bolton with Gerard Batten, who has called equal marriage ‘a nightmare’
UKIP voters have removed Henry Bolton as head of the party after just five months.
The party has appointed controversial MEP Gerard Batten as its interim leader – its seventh in just under two years.
In 2014, Batten called equal marriage “a nightmare,” adding that his “gay friends in UKIP [were] perfectly happy with that stance as well.”
A few months after making those comments, Batten said that migrants with HIV should not be allowed into the UK, calling the virus “highly dangerous”.
Of the nearly 1,400 people who took part in the vote at the party’s emergency meeting in Birmingham, 63 percent wanted Bolton to leave the position he only took up in September.
Speaking to the audience in Birmingham, Batten said it gave him “no pleasure” to be in his position.
Adding it had become “untenable” for Bolton to continue as leader, UKIP co-founder Batten told the crowd: “UKIP has to continue because we are the only opposition.”
He continued: “I want UKIP to be a populist party,” adding that ‘populist’ had become a “term of abuse”.
“I believe UKIP will regenerate”, Batten said.
Last month, Bolton refused to step down as UKIP leader despite a string of high-profile resignations and a vote of no confidence from his party.
UKIP’s National Executive Committee voted to pass a unanimous vote of no confidence in leader Henry Bolton.
Bolton was heavily criticised after a series of racist text messages were discovered from Bolton’s girlfriend, Jo Marney.
Calls were made for Bolton to resign after The Mail on Sunday revealed the racist texts, in which Marney called Meghan Markle a “negro” whose “seed [will] taint our royal family.”
Bolton was the party’s sixth leader in 18 months when he was appointed last year.
He spoke out against LGBT rights straight away, saying that equality had gone “too far”.
Bolton told the press: “Quite honestly, I think it is getting a bit far when we are encouraging children in some cases to question their own sexuality.
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“I think that is certainly going too far.”
Asked about trans people, he said: “What I have a problem with is that we should all have a choice in that debate.
“If somebody feels it has gone too far they should be free to express that concern.
“What concerns me more than anything else at the moment in that debate is that there is an effort to silence any dissenting voice and I don’t think that is in keeping with the principle of freedom of speech.”