Raheem Kassam has withdrawn his candidacy from the contest to become leader of the UK Independence Party. On his campaign website, Mr Kassam said it was a “very difficult decision”, and also urged those who backed him to back Peter Whittle, one of the party’s representatives on the London Assembly.
Outlining the reasons for his decision, Mr Kassam said: “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.”
Mr Kassam also cited press intrusion. “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.”
Mr Kassam also blamed a lack of funding as another key reason. “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.”
“Over the next few weeks I will be providing a statement of accounts for all my donors, and in-keeping with my money pledge on my website, I will be giving them the choice as to what happens with the remainder of the money they donated. I will suggest we either: donate to the Royal British Legion or Help for Heroes, donate to the party, donate to Peter Whittle’s campaign. Those who want refunds are welcome to contact me.”
Mr Kassam launched his campaign last Friday at the Westminster Arms pub, where he proclaimed himself to be the “Faragist candidate”, and promised that under his leadership, the party would continue the legacy of Nigel Farage, as well as planning to take UKIP into the “digital-age”. His pledges included to raise the number of members to 100,000 by the next General Election, with a view to decreasing the joining cost; giving more power to Youth Independence, the party’s youth wing; reforming the party’s National Executive Committee; tackling the problems caused by radical Islam; better treatment of military veterans, as well as the country’s railways, the BBC and more research and funding for mental health care.
Mr Kassam said he will continue with his work as editor-in-chief of Breitbart London and will be covering the final leg of the US Presidential Election campaigns.
New Media Central Europe believed that Raheem Kassam was the only man who was able to lead UKIP away from the edge of the political abyss and be someone who could take the fight to the political establishment. Whilst it was fair to say that former Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall was the favourite ever since he entered the race, Mr Kassam was not far behind in terms of support, particularly through social media, and with backing of people such as party’s donor and Leave.EU founder Arron Banks.
This leaves Mr Nuttall, Mr Whittle, former party spokesman Suzanne Evans and little-known party member John Rees-Evans as the remaining candidates in the contest. The first of four leadership hustings, spread over ten days, begin in Westminster tomorrow night.