Ukip MEP Mike Hookem quits as a party whip over anti-Islam candidate
He said he was not prepared to “turn a blind eye” to extremism.
A senior Ukip MEP has quit his post as a party whip after a controversial anti-Islam campaigner was cleared to stand in the party’s leadership election.
Mike Hookem said he was resigning as deputy whip in the European Parliament after the chief whip, Stuart Agnew, declared his support for Anne Marie Waters.
Ms Waters, who founded the Sharia Watch pressure group and who has called Islam “evil”, is one of 11 candidates cleared to run in the leadership contest by the Ukip national executive committee.
In a statement, Mr Hookem said he was not prepared to “turn a blind eye” to extremism.
“I strongly disagree with the views Ms Waters and Mr Agnew promote and I would like to put as much distance between me and them as possible,” he said.
“If I were to continue in my position of deputy whip, I would be seen as supporting or at the very least turning a blind eye to extreme views and this is not something I am prepared to do.
“I am not a racist and have never campaigned on race issues. While I do believe in controlled immigration, this position is about ‘space rather than race’; and I am not prepared to support someone who seeks to single out a section of our society simply due to their religious beliefs.”