Nigel Farage says Ukip's only MP should not be in party

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Douglas Carswell should not be in Ukip, Nigel Farage has said of the party’s only MP, despite vowing not to interfere in internal politics after stepping down as leader.

Relations between Farage and the Clacton MP have soured since Carswell’s high-profile defection from the Conservatives in 2014. 

“He shouldn’t be in the party,” Farage told LBC radio on Friday. “He doesn’t believe in what we stand for, he never has done … Since the general election all he’s done is sought to undermine us and divide us. And I notice even since Paul [Nuttall] has become leader we’ve had some statement from Carswell saying that he thought Theresa May’s doing a fantastic job.”

Carswell, who has remained close to many Conservatives, declined to back Farage’s Grassroots Out movement during the referendum and instead campaigned with its rival, Vote Leave, alongside the Tory Daniel Hannan.

However, Farage said Carswell showed no signs of defecting back to the Conservatives. “Last year at a Christmas cocktail party I bumped into David Cameron … We chatted and he said, ‘Tell me, Nigel,’ he said, ‘How are you getting on with Douglas Carswell?’ I said, ‘About as well as you did.’”

Asked by the presenter Nick Ferrari whether the former prime minister had laughed at his comment, Farage said: “He did. There are some people who just don’t fit in anywhere … I think Douglas is an individual. He’s got his own set of views on things but maybe party politics isn’t really for him.”

In the interview, Farage did not rule out standing for parliament again if the South Thanet general election resultwas declared void by Kent police and the Electoral Commission. They are investigating whether Conservatives broke the law by failing to declare tens of thousands of pounds of hotel bills for activists during the 2015 campaign. Farage lost the seat by 2,812 votes.

“Let’s see what happens in Thanet,” he said. “I don’t know. Right at the moment I’m enjoying life. I don’t have to wake up every morning thinking about the next set of elections next May.”

Farage repeated his promise that he would not try to be a backseat driver to Nuttall. “I’m not going to meddle, I’m not going to interfere,” he said. “He mustn’t try and mimic or copy the way that I did things and, do you know what, I don’t think he will.”

The former leader said he wanted to see Nuttall pursue a strategy with “traditional old Labour working-class” voters and said the Liverpool-born former lecturer was “the perfect person to really go after that vote”.

The departure of Diane James, who led Ukip for 18 days before quitting in October, was “a bit of a hiccup, to say the very least”, but Ukip was now “in pretty good hands”, Farage said.

“She thought she could be a lower-profile, less controversial version of me but if you’re leader of Ukip, or of any party, given the world we’re living in, it’s going to be very, very tough.”

Farage did not answer any questions about potential legal action by the anti-fascist movement Hope Not Hate, which has sent a legal letter to the former Ukip leader for saying the widower of the murdered MP Jo Cox was tainted by extremism because he supported the organisation.

The controversy began when Farage sent a tweet on Tuesday morning about the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, saying it would be Angela Merkel’s legacy.

Brendan Cox, whose wife was murdered by a far-right terrorist then tweeted back to him, saying blaming politicians for the actions of extremists was “a slippery slope”.

Asked about the exchange earlier this week, Farage said: “Well, of course, he would know more about extremists than me, Mr Cox. He backs organisations like Hope Not Hate, who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful, but actually pursue violent and undemocratic means.”

Hope Not Hate said it considered the remarks defamatory and had sent a legal letter asking for an apology and retraction, though the group is crowdfunding to help pay for any legal action.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jessica Elgot Political reporter, for theguardian.com on Friday 23rd December 2016 14.24 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010