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Ukip's Paul Nuttall resigns over Tommy Robinson appointment

The Guardian logo The Guardian 07/12/2018 Matthew Weaver
a man wearing a suit and tie: Paul Nuttall (left) with former Ukip leader Nigel Farage. © AFP/Getty Paul Nuttall (left) with former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

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Ukip has lost its second former leader in three days over the party’s decision to appoint the far-right Islamophobic campaigner Tommy Robinson as an adviser.

Paul Nuttall, who led the party during the 2017 election, said Ukip’s new links to Robinson were a catastrophic error that would tarnish Brexit.

On Tuesday, Nigel Farage also quit the party saying it had a “fixation” with the anti-Muslim policies of its leader, Gerard Batten.

In a statement, Nuttall, the MEP for North West England, said: “I am resigning because the party is being taken in a direction which I believe is harmful to Brexit. The association with Tommy Robinson will simply appal many moderate Brexit voters.”

He added: “The Tommy Robinson issue should have been shelved and debated within the party following Brexit – in line with the sensible decision taken by the national executive committee last month. The party leadership and my MEP colleagues have been aware of my views on this issue for some time.

“Putting Tommy Robinson front and centre, whilst Brexit is in the process of being betrayed, is in my view a catastrophic error. To conflate Brexit and Robinson at this crucial moment is to put the Eurosceptic cause in danger and I cannot and will not be party to that.”

Nuttall said he made the decision to resign with an “immense amount of reluctance and regret, as I have worked tirelessly for the party for the past 14 years”.

Batten, who has described Islam as a “death cult” and called for policies including Muslim-only prisons, survived an attempt by Farage to unseat him last weekend.

While members made clear that they did not want to allow Robinson to join Ukip – the founder of the far-right English Defence League is barred under current rules – a vote of no confidence in Batten was defeated.

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