UK Politics

Douglas Carswell does not fit in with UKIP - ex-Nigel Farage aide

Raheem Kassam
Image caption Raheem Kassam said Douglas Carswell has not fit in with UKIP

UKIP's sole MP Douglas Carswell has not fitted in with the party and sees it as a way to be an independent MP, Nigel Farage's ex-chief of staff has said.

Raheem Kassam said some people wished the Clacton MP would play a bigger role within UKIP, "rather than being the Douglas Carswell party".

Mr Kassam left UKIP amid internal friction within the party following the election - which saw it win one seat.

He said Mr Farage also needs to help lead the EU referendum "no" campaign.

Speaking to BBC's Newsnight, Mr Kassam said Mr Carswell could fit in with UKIP if he wanted to, but said: "I'm just not getting the sense that he wants to at the moment."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Douglas Carswell said Nigel Farage should "take a break" after the general election

He said: "I think he sees UKIP as a way of being an independent, whereas actually the way of being an independent is to sit as an independent MP.

"When he talks about his priorities for the parliament, he's not talking about UKIP's priorities, he's talking about his priorities for this parliament."

He said there was no doubt Mr Carswell - who resigned as a Conservative MP to join UKIP - was a "very intelligent man" but he "doesn't necessarily fit into a political party".

Mr Kassam left UKIP after a bitter internal row developed within the party following Mr Farage's post-election resignation - which was rejected by the party.

At the time, Mr Carswell told Mr Farage to take a break "as leader", having failed to win election in Thanet South.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Raheem Kassam, Nigel Farage's former chief of staff, left UKIP after the election

Asked about the future referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, Mr Kassam said there needed to be "two or three" leaders in the "no" campaign to leave the EU - saying Mr Farage "needs to be one of them".

He said Eurosceptic Tories needed a "big player on board" for the campaign, but added that Mr Farage would also have to be "a big player in this as well".

"He appeals to working class voters all across the country like no Tory can and no Tory does," Mr Kassam told the programme.

In a separate interview with the Guardian newspaper, Mr Kassam also said he was so embarrassed of some people working for the party during the election he had to lock them behind closed doors when showing journalists around UKIP headquarters.

He told Newsnight that he would not "name names" but said: "There are people who are embarrassing."

He said they were not part of the senior "team Nigel" but were "on the fringes".

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