Nigel Farage launches bid to topple UKIP leader over 'appalling' appointment of Tommy Robinson

Angry: Nigel Farage has called fro the removal of the UKIP leader (PA)
Angry: Nigel Farage has called fro the removal of the UKIP leader (PA)

Nigel Farage has called for UKIP leader Gerard Batten to be sacked for appointing Tommy Robinson as an adviser.

Former party chief Mr Farage said Mr Batten was taking the Eurosceptic party in a ‘shameful’ direction.

He hit out at the appointment of Mr Robinson, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Well, I’m appalled.

“The NEC of the party voted overwhelmingly last week not to have a ballot of members to let the man, potentially, join the party.

“But Gerard Batten has got this, sort of, fixation with Tommy Robinson and discussing Islam, and dragging UKIP into a direction of effectively being a, sort of, street activist party.”

Tommy Robinson (PA)
Tommy Robinson (PA)

His comments came after it was announced the controversial activist and English Defence League (EDL) founder – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – will advise Mr Batten on rape gangs and prison reform.

Mr Farage added: “It goes against all the things I did as leader to say we will talk about immigration, we will talk about the extreme forms of Islam. But, we will do it as a non-racist, non-sectarian party.

“This blows a hole in all of that.”

Protesters outside UKIP annual conference in September (PA)
Protesters outside UKIP annual conference in September (PA)

Asked if the appointment was the end of UKIP, Mr Farage said: “Well, I haven’t given up yet.

“I will be writing to the National Executive Committee of the party today and urging that we have a vote of no confidence in Gerard Batten as leader, that we get rid of him.

“We can have one last go at getting rid of somebody who, as leader, is dragging us in a shameful direction.”

Batten hit back accusing Farage on Twitter, promising to make further comments later on Friday.

Robinson faces a possible retrial against a jail term for contempt of court for live-streaming videos to Facebook from outside a grooming gang case.

Under current rules, EDL members are banned from joining UKIP.

Farage was first elected leader of UKIP in 2006 and has been a MEP since 2009.

He added that Batten does not have the party support to appoint Robinson.