LONDON — UKIP donor Arron Banks says he has been expelled from the party after criticising its leader Paul Nuttall.
Banks, a millionaire insurance tycoon, said on Tuesday morning that his UKIP membership had been suspended “apparently for saying current leadership [Nuttall] couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding.”
Two senior UKIP sources told Business Insider that Banks’ membership had simply run out, rather than being terminated.
One said: “I understand it lapsed in the year. Beyond that, I don’t know.”
Nuttall also told BBC Radio 5 last month that Banks wasn’t a member of UKIP after Banks called him a “weak” leader and criticised Douglas Carswell, the party’s only MP. Nuttall told interviewer Nicky Campbell that Banks “is not a UKIP member, so I can’t kick him out of something he is not a member of.”
In a statement published on Tuesday morning, Banks said that his membership had been suspended after he tried to reapply for annual membership of the party.
The Leave.EU co-founder said: “The party has somehow managed to lapse my membership despite having given considerably more than the annual membership this year! On reapplying I was told the membership was suspended pending my appearance at the NEC meeting. Apparently my comments about the party being run like a squash club committee and Mr Carswell have not gone down well.”
Banks added that he would concentrate on a “new movement,” reaffirming his intention to start a cross-party populist movement drawing on Italy’s Five-Star Movement which he said would gather support from more than a million people in the UK.
The question of whether UKIP could continue to fund itself without Banks’ significant donations is unclear, although the party insists “there are other people” to bankroll the party.
Carswell, a fierce adversary of Banks, tweeted shortly after the news:
Banks had previously threatened to walk away from UKIP if Nuttall didn’t implement a series of drastic reforms, including that Carswell is kicked out of the party. Banks and former leader Nigel Farage accuse Carswell of trying to split the party from within since defecting from the Conservatives in 2014.
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I’m on top of the world …. ????????????????
— Douglas Carswell (@DouglasCarswell) March 14, 2017
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