Anti-Islam candidate to stand for UKIP leadership

Anne Marie Waters

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.

Even if Waters does not win, Ukip faces the possibility of splits over its post-Brexit future, with other leading candidates taking a strongly anti-Islam stance.

She was deputy leader of the United Kingdom arm of Pegida, a far-right and anti-Islam group, and has called Islam "an expansionist, political, totalitarian and supremacist faith, commanded to world domination" and said people were wary of the religion because they feared their children would be abused by Muslims.

Several senior members of the party have said they will resign if she becomes the leader because they believe this would finish Ukip as a mainstream political force and condemn it to the sidelines with fringe parties.

A former Labour activist, she announced her intention to stand after Mr Nuttall stepped down following Ukip's disastrous performance at the general election in June.

She has argued the party could regain the support it has lost if it had the "guts" to be "honest about Islam" and challenge the view that it has "nothing to do" with jihadist violence.

It later emerged she has received help in her leadership campaign from Jack Buckby, a former British National party member who later stood for parliament for another far-right group, Liberty GB. In UKIP's literature, the party sees Islam as a "serious existential crisis".

Mr Whittle, a London assembly member, has said he intends to reinvent Ukip as a "cultural movement".

Another contender is John Rees-Evans, a former soldier who once claimed that a gay donkey had tried to rape his horse.

Other candidates approved to stand in the election include Ukip deputy leader Peter Whittle, MEPs David Coburn and Jane Collins, and London Assembly member David Kurten.

Voting opens on 1 September with the result to be announced at Ukip's party conference at the end of that month.

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