Ukip must step up or be replaced by new party, says donor Arron Banks

Ukip Bus 3

Ukip’s most high-profile donor, Arron Banks, has given further hints that he may start a new political party, inspired by Italy’s populist Five Star Movement, which recently won several significant electoral victories.

Either Ukip, or his new movement, should now push for a “Swiss-style model of direct democracy, which allows citizens to propose their own laws and veto the schemes of the politicians”, Banks said in a comment article written for the Guardian.

The multimillionaire businessman is prevented from running for the leadership of Ukip, after the resignation of his close friend Nigel Farage, by party rules which state any new leader must have been a member for five years.

The rules also bar high-profile Ukip politicians including the party’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, and its former MP, Mark Reckless. Frontrunners for the role are MEPs Jonathan Arnott and Steven Woolfe.

“Now, more than ever, the country needs Ukip to step up, or for a new movement to step forward,” Banks said. “We won’t achieve anything by tempering ourselves to create another bland, centrist party.

“We need to lower the barriers to entry for politics, and reach out to new audiences online, as Beppe Grillo’s revolutionary Five Star Movement has done in Italy.”

Five Star Movement, created by the Italian comedian and TV personality, is a Eurosceptic populist group that has won a series of key electoral victories in recent years, including mayoral races in Rome and Turin, with the aim of establishing itself as the country’s official opposition party by the 2018 general election.

With Ukip’s raison d’être of leaving the EU now achieved in principle, Banks and Farage have long been tipped to be mulling starting a new populist party with libertarian leanings. He previously told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show there were “very sound reasons” for starting a new party.

Banks, the co-founder of Leave.EU, said that group’s enormous social media effort had meant it could bypass traditional media.

“We now need to push it further, lowering prices for party membership, putting more control over the party in the hands of the grassroots, and reaching into areas of the country that the mainstream parties have long forgotten or taken for granted,” he said.

Banks, who backed Andrea Leadsom for Conservative leader, said he had little faith in new prime minister Theresa May, claiming that Ukip’s membership had increased by more than 1,000 in a single day since she entered No 10.

The manner of May’s coronation as prime minister was an opportunity for right-wing Brexit conservatives, Banks said, as well as what he termed “the patriotic working-class voters who rejected the Blairite left on referendum day”.

Banks said he believed those two core voter groups could be “united either within Ukip or a new political movement”.

He added: “Working-class voters backed Brexit in a big way. Where do they look for representation now, never mind leadership?

“With some in [Corbyn’s] party now bleating that the referendum result was ‘advisory and non-binding’ and calling for parliament to overturn it, it is more clear than ever to working people that the Labour party is now run by and for a metropolitan elite, and does not speak for them.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jessica Elgot Political reporter, for The Guardian on Saturday 23rd July 2016 07.00 Europe/London

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