UK Politics

UKIP set to unveil new leader amid resignation threats

Anne Marie Waters Image copyright Shutterstock
Image caption Anne Marie Waters is the bookies' favourite

UKIP is set to unveil its fourth leader in just over a year after a contest that has divided the party.

Anti-Islam campaigner Anne Marie Waters is the bookmakers' favourite with London Assembly member Peter Whittle also thought to be among front runners.

Some UKIP MEPs have threatened to leave the party if Ms Waters wins. One told the BBC it would take UKIP "down a very dark alley".

The party has also unveiled a new logo replacing the pound sign with a lion.

The winner of the leadership election will be announced at about 17:00 BST at the party's annual conference in Torquay.

As the conference gets underway, interim leader Steve Crowther unveiled the new logo - which some, including Gary Lineker, suggested bore a resemblance to that of the Premier League.

UKIP chairman Paul Oakden told the BBC's Daily Politics he was not worried the similarities might lead to legal issues: "We did our due diligence before we put these logos to the membership and as I said, we are perfectly comfortable".

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Media captionUKIP's chairman says he is “not worried” about any legal action as the party "did our due diligence"

Ms Waters, whose candidacy is backed by former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, has generated backing on social media and has encouraged her supporters to join the party to vote for her.

It is not clear how many have been able to do that in time to be entitled to a vote in the contest.

UKIP leadership contenders

Henry Bolton - former candidate for Kent police and crime commissioner

Jane Collins - MEP for Yorkshire and Humber

David Kurten - London Assembly member

Aidan Powlesland - Former parliamentary candidate

John Rees-Evans - Former parliamentary candidate

Anne Marie Waters - Director of Sharia Watch UK

Peter Whittle - Deputy UKIP leader and London Assembly member

Ms Waters has argued that UKIP needs to be more forceful in its opposition to Islam and Sharia law - and "speak to the marginalised and forgotten British public".

Her leadership rival Peter Whittle was a keen advocate of the party's policy on banning full face veils, although he has focused his leadership contest on Brexit.

West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge last week told the BBC that the views of Ms Waters and Mr Whittle were taking the party down a "very dark alley".

He is among as many as 18 of the party's MEPs who have threatened to walk away from the party and sit as Independents in the European Parliament if Ms Waters wins.

Former leader Nigel Farage, who is not standing in the leadership contest, has warned that the party will be "finished" if it becomes anti-Islam.

He has denied reports he will quit the party to set up a new movement if Ms Waters is elected.

Another leadership contender thought to be in with a chance is former Army officer Henry Bolton, who has warned about the UKIP becoming the "UK Nazi Party" if it picks the wrong leader.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Nigel Farage has denied claims he is starting a new movement

The party is reported to be in buoyant mood at its Torquay conference, despite the leadership turmoil, as it seeks to capitalise on what it sees as Prime Minister Theresa May's "backsliding" on Brexit.

An AfD candidate, Hugh Bronson, is due to address the UKIP faithful, days after his party finished third in Germany's elections on a promise to fight "an invasion of foreigners".

The new UKIP leader will hold a press conference when the leadership result is announced and deliver a speech to members in Torquay on Friday.

Paul Nuttall quit as UKIP leader after the general election, which saw its vote share shrink to 1.8% at the general election from 12.6% in 2015.

His predecessor Diane James, who replaced Nigel Farage, lasted just 18 days in the job.

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