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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Battle lines are drawn as UKIP row escalates

Of all the things for key figures in UKIP to fall out over, a knighthood for Nigel Farage must be the most unlikely, not least because one's immediate reaction is 'what were they thinking earmarking Farage for a knighthood in the first place?'

Nevertheless, the Guardian reports that Farage has again urged colleagues to expel the party's only MP, Douglas Carswell after an extraordinary day of public backbiting in the party:

Amid reports that Carswell is in talks with the Tories about switching back, Farage told the Press Association: “Did he ever leave the Conservatives? He was certainly representing them during the referendum campaign.”

Farage said the MP had to go because “I don’t want my successor to have to put up with the same sabotage and division that I did.”

Oakden was asked to meet Carswell by Ukip’s current leader, Paul Nuttall, as the party descended into fresh chaos after Farage’s call for the MP to be ousted.

Farage unleashed his attacks on Carswell following claims that the MP played a role in blocking a knighthood for the former leader.

The paper says that leaked emails showed Carswell joking that Farage should be given an OBE “for services to headline writers”:

Carswell, who defected from the Conservatives in 2014, responded to Farage with a provocative late-night tweet saying: “Knight night.”

This prompted the millionaire Ukip donor Arron Banks to declare he is ready to stand against Carswell in the 2020 general election. Farage said the comments should not be taken “too seriously”.

However, a subsequent tweet suggested Banks was taking his challenge to Carswell seriously and was making practical arrangements to prepare an election campaign.

“We will have a high street shop in Clacton, professional agent appointed soon and I will be rolling my sleeves up,” said Banks.

Meanwhile, in Wales the BBC say that Carswell's fellow defector from the Conservatives, Mark Reckless, who is a Welsh AM, believes that UKIP's sole MP should stay put.

As UKIP's sole representative in the Commons, Carswell is able to access short money to fund his activities there. According to the Assembly website, Mark Reckless declares amongst his interests that he is a 'Part-time Director (not a company director) and Company Secretary, UKIP Parliamentary Resource Unit Limited (SO 4.3 - Band 2 - Between 5 hours and 20 hours per week). Company in receipt of House of Commons 'short money'.
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