Former UKIP donor Arron Banks says he won't run as MP for Clacton

Connor Sephton, News Reporter

Former UKIP donor Arron Banks has announced he will not attempt to become Clacton's next MP.

In a statement, the millionaire businessman said he would instead throw his support behind Jeff Bray, the UKIP candidate for the Essex seat.

When the General Election was called, Mr Banks had announced his intention to challenge incumbent Douglas Carswell, who had left the Eurosceptic party in order to become an independent.

But last Thursday, Mr Carswell declared he was stepping down as an MP to move on to other things - and said he would be voting Conservative on 8 June.

Mr Banks said he has "no intention of standing in the way of hard-working activists who are the soul of the party".

However, he vowed to join former UKIP leader Nigel Farage in "campaigning hard" for Mr Bray in Clacton, and giving the local party the financial assistance it needs to fight the election.

In a personal attack on Mr Carswell, the former UKIP donor wrote: "Douglas Carswell is the epitome of a nasty little career politician who didn't give two hoots for the area.

"He stood originally for UKIP because he knew they would win the seat in a General Election.

"He used UKIP and did nothing for Clacton."

In a recent interview with BBC Essex, Mr Banks had admitted he knew "nothing at all" about the constituency - except for the fact that it was one of the UK's most Eurosceptic areas.

Meanwhile, UKIP leader Paul Nuttall is yet to confirm whether he plans to stand in the General Election.

His party has been accused of descending into "full-throttled Islamophobia" after unveiling proposals which include a ban on burqas in public and annual medical checks on schoolgirls who are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Former Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone described UKIP's plans for tackling FGM as "horrifically heavy-handed" and claimed the party was trying to outdo France's Marine Le Pen in a "desperate" attempt to stay relevant now the UK is leaving the EU.