Bill Etheridge has become the second MEP to resign over the extreme direction that new leader Gerard Batten has taken UKIP.
The London Economic has reported on the extreme views now associated with UKIP and aired in and around the party conference.
In a series of public spats Nigel Farage has made no secret of his despair at his successor as leader Gerard Batten’s extremism, warning that the party faces “total and utter marginalisation” if it allows in divisive figures such as former English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson – who Batten supported at a recent rally – into UKIP.
Now in a shaming resignation statement UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge warned Batten: “the changes you have made since becoming leader have changed the party beyond all recognition. You have allowed your personal obsessions free reign.
“The party is now seen by large swathes of the British public as a vehicle for hate towards the Muslims and the Gay community.”
“While there is a place for extreme nationalist and reactionary views in politics and I defend the right of you and others to hold and express your opinions, I do not believe these were the opinions and policies that Ukip MEPs were elected to represent.”
Gerard Batten was unapologetic, fuming:
“I hope that Mr Etheridge will do the decent and honourable thing and resign his seat, thereby handing it back to UKIP to which it morally belongs.
“I am sure the loss of his salary, daily allowance, and pension rights would be a small price to pay for a man of principle such as he.
“It was a great pity that Mr Etheridge was unable to make it to the UKIP conference in Birmingham last month where he could have witnessed the party members fully behind my leadership – the people who put him in the seat he currently holds by dint of their efforts and donations.”
Etheridge’s resignation comes less than a week after fellow MEP William Dartmouth announced he was leaving the party, warning that Batten was taking it “further and further to the right”.
The resignations are evidence of turmoil over UKIP’s leadership just eight months after the party got rid of previous leader Henry Bolton in a vote of no confidence.