'Cult' warning: UKIP rift opens with attack on Nigel Farage

AP News
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Posted: May 14, 2015 10:44 AM
'Cult' warning: UKIP rift opens with attack on Nigel Farage

LONDON (AP) — All is not well in the anti-immigrant UK Independence Party headed by Nigel Farage, whose leadership was questioned Thursday after an election loss kept him out of the British Parliament.

Farage had resigned as party leader after failing to win a seat in the House of Commons last week, but took the reins again a few days later when party executives rejected his resignation.

But UKIP's economic spokesman warned Thursday that Farage risks turning the party into a personality cult and an "absolute monarchy." Patrick O'Flynn, who is also a UKIP member of the European Parliament, said Farage has become a "snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive" man in recent months. He told the Times newspaper that Farage must adopt a much more consultative style.

The party infighting escalated further Thursday when a major UKIP donor, Stuart Wheeler, told BBC Radio that he would like to see Farage step down as party leader. The former party treasurer said UKIP needs a less aggressive leader to better win support from centrist voters.

The controversial right-wing party won about 13 percent of the popular vote in Britain last week but earned just one seat in the House of Commons. It wants Britain to withdraw from the 28-nation European Union and take steps to block immigrants, especially legal immigrants from other EU nations, from coming to Britain to live and work.

Its one successful candidate, Douglas Carswell, is also clashing with Farage over whether he should claim 650,000 pounds ($1 million) per year of public financing to which he is entitled to help pay for additional staff.

Carswell has said it would be inappropriate to take the money, which is more than other legislators receive, due to UKIP's relatively high percentage of the popular vote in comparison to its sole seat in Parliament.