Raheem Kassam has dropped out of the race to be next leader of the UK Independence Party — just three days after officially launching his campaign.
Kassam, a wildcard candidate whose odds of winning considerably improved when he received the backing of party donor Arron Banks, announced the news on Twitter on Monday morning.
In a statement which is on his website, Kassam said “the path to victory is too narrow” and urged his supporters to vote for Peter Whittle, a London assembly member who announced his candidacy last week.
The former aide to current UKIP leader Nigel Farage cited three reasons for his shock decision to quit the race. They are as follows:
“1. The top of the party is treating this like a coronation: I am not satisfied about the integrity of the process, and having put a number of complaints in to the party chairman, I was disappointed that incidents whereby Members of the European Parliament are using party databases to effectively campaign against me — ostensibly against the rules — were not challenged.
“2. Disgraceful treatment by the media: I am tough and I can take it, but when Times journalists show up at my elderly parents’ house at dusk, intimidating them, I draw the line. Billy Kenber at the Times has a lot to answer for and I will be pursuing a harassment complaint further.
“3. Fundraising: While we raised enough for our deposit, and got over 200 assentors to my nomination, we could not raise enough for this to be more than a digital campaign run from SW1, and to not feature at events all around the country would have made me a hypocrite, given how much I criticise the establishment for ignoring the country.”
When Kassam first hinted he could enter the race to be the anti-EU party’s next leader, he was dismissed as an outsider who is virtually unknown to most of the party’s members, who were generally unaware of him and his work as the editor-in-chief of the UK edition of right-wing online publication Breitbart.
However, his cause was boosted greatly when he was endorsed by Farage’s close friend Arron Banks, who has pumped over a million pounds into UKIP since 2014. The endorsement led to various bookmakers making him second-favourite to win the upcoming leadership contest.
His decision to quit the race paves the way for Merseyside-born candidate Paul Nuttall to take over the troubled party. Nuttall has strong grassroots support — particularly in the north of England, where the party lacks popularity and resources.
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