One of Ukip’s biggest donors has dubbed the party’s new leader “weak” and pledged to launch his own movement aimed at motivating a million people.
Aaron Banks, who has given millions of pounds to the party, criticsed Paul Nuttall’s leadership in an interview with the Independent.
He revealed that Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader and a close friend of Mr Banks, is “very frustrated” since stepping away from the role.
Mr Banks warns that the party has been “thrashing around” for purpose since the Brexit result last June which has seen support for Ukip drop.
And he promises to start putting out as series of policy ideas independent of the party in a move inspired by Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement.
“We are going through a period where we’ll either define what we want to do and get on and do it, or we won’t. People feel Ukip are in the wilderness a bit, thrashing around for what we are,” Mr Banks says.
“So, what we’re going to do is, next month we’re going to put forward a whole range of what we think are quite radical ideas, that are neither from the left or the right, and 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 ideas, get involved in the process’, then we will then put them to a direct democracy, so it’s very much like the Five Star Movement.
"And anyone can join that, 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.”
Mr Banks says that Mr Nuttall is “weak but potentially a good leader” and criticises a string of senior Ukip figures in the interview.
“We’ve got to bring good people through and sometimes because of the incestuous nature of this thing good people have not been brought through or they’ve been killed off because of jealousies and that’s where this thing has gone wrong,” he says.
“There needs to be a deeper pool of talent from which to pick. Having someone like Neil Hamilton [the former Tory MP] in Wales is a disaster. It’s not a unified party, we know that.”
Mr Banks also criticses Douglas Carswell, Ukip’s only MP, who this week faced calls to quit over claims he blocked Mr Farage’s knighthood - allegations he denies.
Mr Banks says Mr Carswell as “done his level best to cause problems” and says that “he has to be gone”.
He adds: "In the referendum, Vote Leave thought it was rude to talk about immigration, right up until they realised they had to, that it wouldn’t appeal to middle class Tory voters and Carswell falls into that category.
"Ideologically he is for open door immigration. His reasons for the referendum are not our reasons. As a libertarian, he believes in virtually no rules at all.”