A new week, a new drama for Ukip. Although Nigel Farage last month called for Douglas Carswell to be kicked out of the party for disloyalty over a knighthood, it’s Farage’s righthand man Arron Banks who has today been left out in the cold.
The Ukip donor says he has been pushed out of the party after his membership lapsed. On trying to rejoin, Banks was told that he had been suspended ‘apparently for saying the current leadership couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding’. In recent weeks, the millionaire donor has become increasingly critical of the party leadership — demanding to be made chairman after Paul Nuttall lost the Stoke by-election.
The party’s decision to suspend Banks – but protect Carswell following the knighthood row – suggests that Nuttall has now picked a side in Ukip’s civil war. On being elected leader he had promised to unite all sides of the party but this soon began to look near impossible when the Faragists turned on the Carswell contingent (for not being ‘radical’ enough) over the Stoke by-election loss. By exerting control today, Nuttall has shown that one way to unite his beleaguered party is to slim it down – and remove the more divisive figures.
Even if Ukip were to reverse the decision – which looks unlikely – there’s reason to believe that Banks wouldn’t be interested in a return. For some time now he has spoken about forming a new party – one that is radical and can ‘drain the swamp’ of what he sees to be corrupt establishment MPs. Today’s drama may well prove to be the launchpad for this. If he does go through with it, don’t rule out a Farage defection.