Gerard Batten lashed out at Nigel Farage’s speech on his Brexit Party launch, labelling it a “complete smear”. The UKIP leader added Mr Farage has known him “for 27 years” and is trying to “enhance the chances” of the Brexit Party. In a speech on his decision to launch the Party, Mr Farage referred to UKIP: “They have decided to go down a route where they seems to be a complete obsession not just with Islam but it would appear with all of its adherence. They have attracted a fairly, shall I say, loutish fringe and I do not think that middle England, decent people, want to vote for a political party that is linked to extremism, violence, criminal records and thuggery.”
BBC’s Andrew Marr asked Mr Batten: “How do you respond to that?”
Mr Batten replied: “Nigel has known me for 27 years. He knows exactly where I stand on things, just as I know where he stands on things. He knows that that’s a smear.
“This is a device that he is now using to try and discredit UKIP, his former Party, and to enhance the chances of his own new Party.
“Now many, many thousands of people who are in UKIP and supported Nigel are still there, so he is talking about those people, who supported him.
“We have had approximately 11,000 new members come in during my period of office, so we have gone up from about 17,000 to about 29,000 almost 30,000 now.
“And what I am getting back from my local branches and activists are these ordinary, decent people who support what we stand for and want to help us in what we are doing. What he’s saying Andrew is a complete smear.”
Mr Farage whipped up a storm at his Brexit Party’s very first rally yesterday in Birmingham, which saw the ex-UKIP leader vow to take on the “career political class” in the upcoming EU elections.
The Brexit Party leader told a roaring crowd Britons were “lions being led by donkeys” during a patriotic speech that saw him tear into Theresa May’s Tory Government and die-hard Remainers for refusing to honour the result of the 2016 EU referendum.
He said: “I find myself standing here in my sixth European election campaign. “I shouldn’t be here, you shouldn’t be here, this shouldn’t be happening, we should have left the European Union.
But I’m damned if after 25 years I’m going to roll over and let these politicians do this to us!
“So let’s fight back, let’s fight back! We won’t stand for it, we won’t stand for it!”
Mr Farage added the European elections in May were “just the beginning” before pledging to fix the UK’s broken political system.
He said: “Fundamental change, taking on and beating the establishment are not things that happen because decent people nod their head and say “I agree with that”.
“Fundamental change in society, the re-balancing that we need between people and the politicians will only come if people like you… determine that you will do something about it. And so I ask you, are you with us!”
Annunziata Rees-Mogg is to stand for the Brexit Party at the ballot scheduled for next month.
The former Tory General Election candidate switched parties out of frustration at the Government’s failure to withdraw the country from the EU on March 29 as promised.
She accused Theresa May of failing to match up to the leadership of her political idol, former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
Speaking at the launch of the Brexit Party’s Euro campaign at a factory in Coventry, Ms Rees-Mogg told cheering supporters: “I joined the Conservative Party in 1984 and this is not a decision I have made lightly – to leave a party for which I have fought at every election since 1987, from Maggie Thatcher through to Theresa May.
“I know which one I’d rather have representing us now.”