Nigel Farage has said he hopes his new Brexit party will be largely funded by small donations, and would not take any money from Arron Banks, the millionaire who bankrolled Ukip.
Speaking before the party’s launch on Friday, the former Ukip leader said: “In the first 10 days of the Brexit party, we’ve raised £750,000 in donations online, all in small sums of less than £500. I’ve never in my 25 years in British politics seen anything like it. And we’ve done that before we’ve even launched.”
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Read moreHe added: “We haven’t asked Arron Banks for any money; he’s not going to give any money. He’s been very badly burned by what happened since the referendum, outrageous though it was,” he said, referring to questions over the source of the £8m that Banks donated to the pro-Brexit campaign.
Speaking on the Today programme, Farage took a swipe at his former party colleagues, saying that while there was “no difference between the Brexit party and Ukip in terms of policy, in terms of personnel, there’s a vast difference,” and that Ukip has “allowed the far right to join it and effectively take it over and I’m afraid the brand is now tarnished”.
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Read moreAttempting to articulate a more moderate brand of Leave, he said the Brexit party “will be deeply intolerant of all intolerance – we’re not the Labour party, we haven’t had 800 cases of antisemitism”.
AdvertisementHowever, pressed about the Brexit party’s first leader Catherine Blaiklock having to resign over a series of Islamophobic tweets, Farage acknowledged “teething problems” in the early days of the movement.
“I set the party up, she was the administrator that got it set up. We had a couple of teething problems, yes, but are we going to be deeply intolerant of all forms of intolerance? Yes.”
Farage claimed that the party wouldn’t “even be discussing Islam” and said that “we absolutely expect to have Muslim candidates. You’re going to be amazed by the cross-section of people we put before the British public.”
He refused to say whether the party would top Ukip’s 27% from the 2014 poll, saying only that “I think we’re going to do very well.”
“We’ll be going after the millions of people who voted Ukip, and the many millions who voted Conservative and voted Brexit, and the 5 million people who voted Brexit and voted Labour. We’ll be looking to take support from across the board.”
Nick Lowles, chief executive of advocacy group Hope Not Hate, responded to the interview, saying: “Our campaign focus in this election will be on Stephen Lennon (rightwing activist Toomy Robinson), and on stopping Ukip – a party that is now unambiguously on the far right – from winning seats. But given Farage’s track record of inflammatory and divisive comments, we’ll be watching him very, very closely.
“If racist comments from leading members of the Brexit party are uncovered and they’re not sacked, we will act. If the Brexit party adopts an agenda of Islamophobia, we will act. If Farage or other candidates engage in the sort of racist dog whistle politics we’ve seen in the past, we will act.
“Our message is clear: we are watching the Brexit party and Nigel Farage very, very closely.”