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UKIP MEP quits as whip over anti-Islam candidate

From BBC - August 12, 2017

A senior UKIP MEP has resigned as deputy whip in the European Parliament over support within the party for an anti-Islam campaigner.

Anne Marie Waters, who founded the Sharia Watch pressure group and has called Islam "evil", has been allowed to stand in UKIP's leadership election.

Mike Hookem said he was not prepared to "turn a blind eye" to extremism.

He resigned after UKIP chief whip Stuart Agnew declared his support for Ms Waters.

In a letter to interim UKIP leader Steve Crowther - sent before Ms Waters was passed by the party's national executive as a leadership candidate - he said he was "disturbed" by Mr Agnew's support.

In a later statement, he said: "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 he was not a racist and would not support someone "who seeks to single out a section of our society simply due to their religious beliefs".

'I would quit'

Fellow MEP Nathan Gill has said he understands why Ms Waters had to be allowed on the ballot paper, but would quit the party if she became leader.

"She should not be a member of this party, but we are where we are," he said.

"If she was elected, I would have to leave".

Former leader Nigel Farage has warned that UKIP will be "finished" if it becomes an anti-Islam party.

But the party's deputy leader, Peter Whittle, said it was right that Ms Waters be allowed to stand.

Mr Whittle - who is also contesting to be leader - said she had passed the vetting process.

"If you get through that then you should be allowed to stand," he said.

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