With every hour the civil war at the top of Ukip intensifies. Now Arron Banks, a top Ukip donor who has given £1m to the party this year, has warned that “if Nigel left I would be the first one out of the door”. Banks has called on Douglas Carswell, Suzanne Evans and Patrick O’Flynn, the three main figures who do not want Farage to remain as leader, to be thrown out of the party.
“Everyone who’s been involved with it should go,” Banks tells the New Statesman. “It’s not very edifying and I don’t believe these people should have our support. There’s a proper way to do things and we don’t do things this way.”
Banks is particularly furious at Suzanne Evans, the author of Ukip’s manifesto who Farage had recommended to be interim leader over the summer and many had assumed would eventually succeed Farage.
“It reflects very poorly on her – this is not the way to do things. Particularly with the party membership, all of this will be frowned upon,” he said. “It’s very disappointing – I think yet again maybe someone has got a little bit above themselves. It’s a party isn’t it and they can’t just take over. No one’s disputing there’s probably some change needed after the election but this is not the way to do it. They should all go on holiday.”
Banks also attacked Douglas Carswell, who he described as viewing himself as “God’s appointed representative” of the campaign to leave the EU and “probably doesn’t relish the idea of Nigel being there as well.”Carswell’s opposition to accepting the full £650,000 of Short Money that Ukip are entitled to after the general election incited fury among many in the party who believed that the party needed the money to represent the four million who voted for Ukip last week.
“He’s shown his intention that he’s prepared to do that type of thing and for that reason I’d rather have no MPs than one whose interests don’t like with Ukip,” Banks said. “No one is bigger than the party and the kind of shenanigans that are going on don’t give me any confidence.”
O’Flynn – “a jumped up little bloke who think he’s going to be the next party leader” – didn’t escape Banks’ wrath either. “The thought that Patrick O’Flynn could take over from Nigel Farage is just ridiculous,” he said, likening seeing him on TV to “watching paint dry”.
“Patrick would be well-advised to sit on Nigel’s knee and learn,”he continued. “When you’ve got a ten out of ten, someone like Patrick O’Flynn is probably a five out of ten – it shows him up.”
Raheem Kassam, an adviser to Farage, has been criticised, with a source earlier telling me he viewed him as making Ukip more “nasty” this campaign. Banks said Kassam was prone to getting “a little bit overheated or overexcitable” but said that “in broad we fought a good campaign.”
Earlier today Stuart Wheeler, who has given Ukip £500,000, telling the BBC urged Farage to stand down, telling the BBC: “If he wants to put himself up in an election then he has every right to do so though I personally would prefer someone else now.”
So Ukip now risks losing one huge donor whether Farage stays or goes. Farage’s failure to win in Thanet South is shaping up as one of the most expensive defeats in British electoral history.
Update: Raheem Kassam, Farage’s chief of staff, has been relieved of his duties. His contract expires at the end of the month and will not be renewed, John Stevens of the Mail tweets.