UKIP MEP says homophobic, anti-Islam extremists have hijacked party
UKIP MEP William Dartmouth has announced his resignation—claiming the party has been “hijacked” by homophobic, anti-Islamic extremists.
The MEP for South West England, who has represented the pro-Brexit party in the European Parliament since 2009, announced on Wednesday he has resigned his membership in protest of the party’s changing stances.
Under leader Gerard Batten, the party has lurched hard to the far-right, standing accused of admitting members with links to white supremacist groups.
On September 21 the party unveiled a manifesto vowing to gut LGBT rights protections and ban LGBT-inclusive education in primary schools, with a senior official describing inclusive education as “child abuse.”
In his resignation letter, Dartmouth claimed the party had been “hijacked” by extremists and said that the party has become “widely perceived as both homophobic and anti-Islamic.”
According to Sky News, he said: “At a time when our founding cause of leaving the EU is at risk, you have chosen instead to campaign against Islam as a religion.
“You associate yourself, and therefore UKIP, with outlandish people and extreme right-wing groups.”
He added: “The work of all those who worked so hard in their support of Brexit is being devalued. To put it simply, you have hijacked the UK Independence Party.
“That is not the UKIP that I joined. It is not the UKIP that nearly four million people voted for in the previous general election.”
In a response shared with Guido Fawkes, Batten wrote: “Thank you for your letter of resignation. I have received this without regret,” signing off “toodle pip.”
UKIP faced a mass exodus of LGBT+ members earlier this year in protest of its increasingly hardline views.
The leadership of the party’s LGBT+ group all resigned in May after Batten appointed Alan Craig to serve as Families and Children spokesman, despite a long history of extreme views on LGBT+ rights and criticism of gay parenting.
Craig, who has repeatedly referred to the LGBT+ lobby as the ‘Gaystapo’ and other terms evoking Nazi imagery, came under scrutiny during the 2015 election when it emerged he had ties to gay ‘cure’ practitioners.
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PinkNews broke the news that Craig was set to speak at the ‘Transformation Potential’ event for people trying to cure “unwanted same-sex attraction,” hosted by the Core Issues Trust.
Craig dropped out of the event following the PinkNews report.
Dartmouth had been among those critical of Craig’s appointment earlier this year, raising objections in a meeting with Batten in July 2018.
According to a previous statement on his website, Dartmouth “questioned the appointment of Mr Alan Craig as a newly created national spokesman on Family Affairs and Children… [and] pointed out that according to many press reports Mr Craig had made homophobic remarks.”