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14 March 2017updated 06 Aug 2021 2:43pm

Will Arron Banks’ new party be Ukip 2.0 or a right-wing Momentum?

Now the businessman and party donor is no longer in Ukip, he will start a political movement of his own.

By Anoosh Chakelian

The Ukip donor and businessman Arron Banks is no longer a member of Ukip. He tweeted his claim today that he’d been suspended from the party, and speculated that it was because he said the leader Paul Nuttall “couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding”.

Banks is now “100 per cent” certain to start a new party, the Huffington Post reports – a plan he has been mulling over for a while.

Here’s what we know so far:

When did he decide he wanted to start a new party?

Just after the EU referendum, Banks began to voice his plans for a new political movement, appealing to members of Ukip, Labour and the Tories.


Never a particularly professional operation in the first place, Ukip was riven by factions and an almost unfillable leadership vacuum following the Brexit vote. Banks called for the party to be “reformed root and branch” and argued that its “problems with personnel and all sorts of issues” meant that it would be better to harness Brexit enthusiasm with “a brand new party”.

Banks was damning of Ukip’s “absence of a clearly defined mission”, slamming its inability to change with the times:

“Ukip started the ball rolling, but the world has moved on. With its remorseless infighting, and absence of a clearly defined mission, it is not fit to spearhead a great national movement in its current form. It’s too traditional. Structurally, it is a mess, held together by rubber bands and by the extraordinary stamina of one man, Nigel Farage. It is clear that something new is required.”

What kind of party would it be?

According to Banks’ past comments, he wants to begin a party that can act as the new opposition – shoring up the Leave-voting Labour constituencies, Ukip supporters and Conservatives disappointed with past Tory governments’ failure to limit immigration. So pro-Brexit, but with an appeal to voters who have traditionally voted in left-wing governments.

How would it work?

Banks has championed the “American-style” techniques of the Leave.EU campaign (which he founded and funded), and how it struck a chord with the public. Presumably he’d want to use a similar messaging strategy and targeted campaigning for his new party. “It [Leave.EU] was taking an American-style media approach,” he said, as reported in the Guardian. “What they said early on was ‘facts don’t work’ and that’s it. The Remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”

How would it differ from other parties?

In November last year, following Donald Trump’s election, Banks revealed he was drawing up plans to “drain the swamp” of British politics. He wants a new political movement that will specifically challenge career politicians, or ineffectual MPs, by standing 200 candidates “against the 200 worst, most corrupt MPs”.

“You would rate MPs by (undesirability) with Keith Vaz at No 1, and field a great candidate, a military guy, doctor, someone who has done something with their life,” he told The Times at the time. “It would be a one-off attempt to drain the swamp. It would be highly amusing to tease career politicians with a hot poker.”

Other ideas for his political movement include changing the rules so that MPs can only hold office for two terms, abolishing the House of Lords and pushing for an elected senate, and insisting on a minimum age of 40 for MPs, to stop careerists.

“It’s a very simple agenda: to destroy the professional politician,” he said. “I like the idea of clearing the place out, setting new rules, maybe reducing the number of MPs. Not a party from the left or right. Just to clear out the worst lot.”

Would it be connected to the Leave campaign?

As well as using similar campaign techniques, harnessing the country’s appetite for Brexit, and working with his network of contacts and donors from Leave.EU, Banks has mentioned in the past that he would like to continue Leave.EU as “a right-wing Momentum” – the membership campaign network born out of the movement that so successfully propelled Jeremy Corbyn to being elected Labour leader.

How similar would it be to Ukip?

Banks has been so damning of Ukip’s inner workings that his new movement won’t be borrowing that much from Ukip’s structure (or lack thereof) or personnel. Although its politics would likely be very similar to those of the Nigel Farage/Arron Banks faction of Ukip, it would operate very differently.

Considering Banks’ enthusiasm for direct democracy, his movement would likely give its members a significant amount of decision-making power, to try and characterise it as a grassroots movement.

“Arron Banks had the idea of creating a new political party with online referenda for the membership to determine the policies that would shape the manifesto,” Nigel Farage’s former aide Alexandra Phillips tells me.

“It’s something that doesn’t exist in politics at all in the UK, and it doesn’t really exist in politics anywhere in the world, other than the Five Star Movement are doing this quite a lot,” she adds. “Having a system that democratically involves the membership of the party would be something that would – it almost seems at some point in the future it will be inevitable. It seems like a natural direction. It would be ahead of its time.”

And…would Nigel Farage be in charge?

Banks and Farage are close friends, and Banks has little enthusiasm for Ukip without Farage in charge. He admires his leadership abilities. In June 2016, when he unveiled his plans for a new movement, Banks suggested that Farage “may have had enough” of politics. But without a formal political position (he won’t be an MEP for much longer either), the former Ukip leader could be looking for a new project – he hasn’t exactly stepped away from the political limelight since standing down as Ukip leader.

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