One of Ukip’s biggest donors has announced he is launching his own political movement after reportedly being suspended from Ukip.
Millionaire insurance tycoon Arron Banks alleges he was ousted from the right-wing party for saying leader Paul Nuttall “couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding”.
A spokesman for Ukip claims that Banks’s membership “lapsed at the beginning of the year”, but was unable to clarify if he had been suspended.
According to the Huffington Post, Banks, who has ploughed more than a million pounds into Ukip since October 2014, is “100%” certain to start his own party.
Banks tweeted of his new venture: “Ukip 2.0, the force awakens.”
Ukip 2.0 , the force awakens … https://t.co/QZacJrpw1s
— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) March 14, 2017
The news comes as support for Ukip has fallen to 9 per cent, the first time it has been in single figures since February 2013, reports The Times.
So what will the new movement look like and why now?
What’s brought Arron Banks to the brink?
After Nuttall failed to win the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election last month, Banks gave Ukip an ultimatum: either he was made party chairman or he would set up a rival movement that would “destroy” Ukip, reports The Guardian.
Banks complained that the party was “being run like a squash club committee” and accused the party’s sole MP, Douglas Carswell, of treachery in not doing enough to help former leader Nigel Farage get a knighthood.
“Apparently my comments about the party being run like a squash club committee and Mr Carswell have not gone down well. I realise I was being unfair to squash clubs all over the UK, and I apologise to them. We will concentrate on our new movement. Over and out,” he said in a statement.
What will the new venture look like?
Banks set out his proposal for the “new movement” in a recent interview with The Independent. Based on the success of the Leave.EU campaign, which he founded and funded, he said: “What we’re going to do is, we’re going to ask the people that follow us, that’s more than a million people, we’re going to say, ‘Submit your policy ideas, get involved in the process’, then we will put them to a direct democracy.
“Anyone can join, they can be Labour, Conservative, Ukip, any political party. And from that you have a list of policies that you want to fight for to implement,” he added.
Banks linked the new venture to Italy’s Five Star Movement, a populist, anti-establishment political group that has gained large swathes of support in the country.
How would it differ from other parties?
“Considering Banks’s enthusiasm for direct democracy, his movement would likely give its members a significant amount of decision-making power, to try and characterise it as a grassroots movement,” says Anoosh Chakelian in the New Statesman.
Chakelian believes Banks wants to begin a party that can act as “the new opposition – shoring up the Leave-voting Labour constituencies, Ukip supporters and Conservatives disappointed with past Tory government failure to limit immigration.”
“So pro-Brexit, but with an appeal to voters who have traditionally voted in left-wing governments,” she says.
After the US election in November, Banks revealed he was drawing up plans to “drain the swamp” of British politics. He said he had devised a plan to stand 200 candidates to replace the most “ineffectual and careerist politicians”.
“You would rate MPs by (undesirability) with Keith Vaz at No 1, and field a great candidate, a military guy, doctor, someone who has done something with their life,” he told the Times. “It would be a one-off attempt to drain the swamp.”