Ukip leadership favourite: Farage’s anti-migrant poster ‘correct’
Ukip leadership favourite Paul Nuttall has praised Nigel Farages controversial anti-migrant poster, saying it made an absolutely correct point that there is a deluge of people coming from the Middle East.
Nuttall, the former deputy leader, backed the poster during a hustings event for Ukip leadership candidates on radio station LBC, which descended into bickering and acrimony over issues ranging from homophobia to the death penalty.
The point behind that poster was absolutely correct. We do need to get control of our borders and there is a deluge of people coming from the Middle East. And the EUs idea of a common asylum policy isnt the route to go down, he said when asked for his views on the campaign image.
He also said there had only been a slight increase in hate crime following Brexit, while arguing that it was not out of the ordinary because it happens after any national event.
A different position was taken by Suzanne Evans, the former deputy chairman of the party, who said the poster was unnecessary though not racist.
I didnt like it. I thought it was insensitive and ill judged, she said.
The poster, which Farage unveiled during the EU referendum campaign, showed a queue of mostly non-white migrants and refugees with the slogan Breaking point: the EU has failed us all. It was condemned at the time by an array of politicians from leading Brexiter Michael Gove to former chancellor George Osborne.
The leadership contest was triggered by Farages departure after the referendum and then the refusal of Diane James to serve after she was elected the new Ukip leader in the first race to succeed him.
The candidates were mostly in agreement about the need to unite the party after a year of bitter infighting but there were palpable tensions during the hustings, largely directed at John Rees-Evans, the least known of the four candidates, who hit the headlines in 2014 for claiming that a gay donkey tried to rape his horse.
He clashed with LBC presenter Iain Dale after he criticised Evans for calling for a Ukip assembly candidate to be axed for branding LGBT activists the Gaystapo.
It is entirely acceptable for a Ukip candidate to have any views that he likes, said Rees-Evans, who called for members to set party policies through direct democracy.
He also suggested he could back the death penalty for paedophiles convicted of sexual crimes with prepubescent children.
There would need to be some pretty strict criteria in terms of the burden of evidence but yes … In the case of specifically paedophiles and child killers, he said, adding that it would not for example apply to someone convicted of a sexual crime with a teenager who looked 18 but was actually 15 and a half.
Nuttall said he would vote in a referendum on the death penalty for it to apply to child murderers such as Ian Huntley, while Evans and Peter Whittle said they did not support the death penalty.
Nuttall, who is the strong favourite to win, had one of the toughest messages about the partys future, saying it was peering over a political cliff.
I will be the candidate who keeps Ukip on the pitch, Nuttall said, calling for the party to replace Labour as the UKs main patriotic party of working people.
At a later hustings for Ukip members in Westminster, both he and Evans made rallying calls for the immediate revocation of the European Communities Act, saying it was necessary to hold Theresa May to account on delivering a real Brexit.
We want our borders back and we want our fish back as well, Evans said.
Peter Whittle said he thought the country was under a sort of attack and it was imperative to uphold British values by challenging sharia law and eradicating female genital mutilation.
The whole advance of radical Islam … Who is the party that has time and time again stood up and said what people really believe about this? he added.
Nuttall struck a similar tone, calling for sharia law to be outlawed from UK towns and cities and a ban on Saudi Arabian funding for mosques.
On immigration, Evans said she supported the return of the primary purpose rule abolished by Labour requiring Brits with foreign spouses to prove that citizenship was not the main point of their marriage. She also called for immigrants to be able to support themselves and their families for five years and have a job before they enter the country.
She said there was a need for Britishness to be emphasised in schools, claiming that Shakespeare is taught as a global playwright who comes from nowhere in particular.