UKIP leader Gerard Batten has accused his antecedent Nigel Farage of “smearing” the party, while defending his own links to Tommy Robinson.
He verbalized Mr Farage, who launched the rival Brexit Party on Friday, wanted to “disfavour” UKIP by claiming Mr Batten was condoning violence by working with the ex-English Cover League leader.
He said UKIP had always been, and would continue, a “non-racist” organisation.
While not a member, Mr Robinson was a “useful source of delve into”, he said.
Mr Farage quit UKIP earlier this year in grouse at the direction of the Eurosceptic party, saying it had become obsessed under Mr Batten’s control with the threat Islam posed to UK society.
Launching his new party on Friday, Mr Farage voiced the UKIP leader’s decision to appoint Mr Robinson as an adviser on grooming combines and prison conditions tarnished his former party and associated it with “extremism, fury, criminal records and thuggery”.
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Mr Robinson, whose authentic name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has been banned from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for ravaging its policies on hate speech.
The political activist has served prison raps for a number of offences but is regarded as a freedom of speech champion by his supporters.
He was jailed for disgust of court last year, a conviction that was later quashed on procedural organizes.
‘Information and research’
Mr Batten defended his association with Mr Robinson, intending it had not stopped the party from attracting 11,000 new members from a grade of backgrounds since he became leader.
“Nigel has known me for 27 years. He knows scrupulously where I stand on things just as I know where he stands on things.
“He be sures that this is a smear. This is a device he is using to try and discredit UKIP and exalt the chances of his own new party… What he is saying is a complete smear.”
Mr Farage, he supported, had employed a former member of the National Front when he was leader on the heart he was no longer associated in any way with the fascist organisation.
“I have lots of in the flesh who advise me, some of which are not members of UKIP,” Mr Batten added.
“Tommy Robinson is not far-right… and does not beget far-right views. He is someone who can give some information and research which is gainful to me.
“We have always been a democratic, non-racist party. That has again been in our constitution and that is exactly the way we are going to keep it.
“It is very odd in this day and age when you get mustered far-right, when what you have spent the last 25 years annoying to do is to return government to our own democratically elected Parliament.”
Mr Batten also protected Carl Benjamin, a possible UKIP candidate in next month’s European elections, who stayed a message on Twitter in 2016 to Labour MP Jess Phillips which maintained: “I wouldn’t even rape you.”
Asked why he had not been thrown out of the party, Mr Batten traced Mr Benjamin as a “classical liberal” and said he thought the message had been “mocking” in nature.
“I don’t know the exact context of that and I certainly don’t condone any regards like that, but he is not a bad person as he is trying to be portrayed,” he said.
“He is a proponent of without cost or obligation speech. The context that he said it was satire against the people he was rephrasing it about. He was not actually making a literal statement.”
Ms Phillips, who has spoken out on behalf of sack and domestic violence victims in Parliament, said it was right for the UKIP bandleader to have been challenged on the issue, and she was considering getting an “army of feminists” to race in the area that Mr Benjamin was standing.