The UK Independence Party leadership contest has gained two new runners in the shape of former Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall MEP and former spokeswoman Suzanne Evans.
Both Mr Nuttall and Ms Evans chose to state their intentions on the BBC, with the latter first announcing her candidacy on The Andrew Marr Show, saying that her intentions is to take UKIP to the “common sense centre” and to “pour oil on the troubled water”. She also claimed that the party has been “toxic” and accused fellow leadership hopeful Raheem Kassam of wanting to take the party to the “far right”.
On Sunday Politics, Mr Nuttall, who was already favourite with some bookies before today, said that he is the “unity candidate”, adding: “UKIP needs to come together. At the moment it is looking over the edge of a political cliff and it will either step off or step back. I want to be the candidate who will tell us to come backwards”.
In response to Ms Evans’s attack, Mr Kassam, a former senior advisor to Nigel Farage MEP – the interim leader – appeared on Sky News and said that he was also hoping to unite the party, saying: “I think now, especially after that incident with Steven Woolfe in the European Parliament, we have to say this has gone too far. We are all in the same party and if we wish to remain in the same party let’s sit down around a table together.”
Mr Kassam later tweeted an email he sent to Ms Evans (below).
— Raheem Kassam 🇬🇧 (@RaheemKassam) October 23, 2016
Mr Farage appeared on ITV’s Peston On Sunday and said: “For her to talk about the party being toxic, for her to already declare one of the candidates who’s running, Raheem Kassam, as being far-right, I don’t view this as being a very good start. She may well think that herself, but that is not how the members and voters feel.” Mr Farage reiterated that he did not back any candidate in the previous contest, and has not stated any support for any candidate in this contest, but said of Ms Evans: “Well I won’t be voting for her, not after that”.
David Kurten, a member of the London Assembly alongside fellow leadership candidate Peter Whittle, has also announced his intention of standing, as well as Andrew Beadle, who stood for the party in Bermondsey and Old Southwark at the 2015 General Election.