A frontrunner in the race to be UKIP’s next leader is probably “too extreme” to be allowed to stand, a party AM has said.
Anne Marie Waters has described Islam as evil.
She is one of several hopefuls who face vetting for UKIP’s leadership election
David Rowlands, who will chair a leadership hustings in Newport, said it is not the image he wants UKIP to have. But Ms Waters claimed the party was trying to “ostracise” her.
As well as Ms Waters, other leadership hopefuls at the meeting include London assembly member David Kurten, David Allen and former UKIP councillor Ben Walker.
Nathan Gill, UKIP’s MEP for Wales and an independent AM who has said the party should not become anti-Islam, is understood to be unhappy about the prospect of Ms Waters being a leadership candidate.
It has been suggested several of the party’s MEPs will resign if she wins.
South Wales East AM Mr Rowlands told BBC Wales: “I don’t even believe she will be selected [to be a candidate]”.
Asked why, he said: “Because her views are too extreme. It’s not the image I would want my party to have.
“I don’t want us to be politically correct, but I also don’t think that we are there to be provocative or to offend people in what we say or in what we do.”
Asked later if he was comfortable with chairing the hustings on Thursday, at which Ms Waters will appear, he said he was.
Mr Rowlands said: “It would seem to me from the comments being made [by other people in UKIP] that she wouldn’t get through the vetting.”
Ms Waters said Mr Rowlands was “entitled to his opinion” but added: “It is only because we have been lying for so long that the truth sounds extreme, and the fact that so many of us are terrified of telling the truth, proves me right about the censorship that we now observe in the UK surrounding this issue.
“I have no problem with people are not courageous enough to speak basic truths, all I wish is that they stop attacking those of us who do.
“The British public deserves better.”
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On the BBC Sunday Politics programme last year Ms Waters said she “did not like” Islam.
“The thing is a lot of people get confused on Islam and all Muslims,” she said. “A lot of people think Islam equals all Muslims. It does not.
“The religion, the scriptures and how it’s practiced in most of the world I find quite frankly abhorrent.”
The deadline for leadership candidates to submit nominations has passed but there will be no official candidates until the vetting is complete – which is expected mid-August.
Others who have announced their intention to run but are not attending the hustings in Newport include direct democracy activist John Rees Evans, London AM Peter Whittle and Scottish MEP David Coburn.
UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge withdrew his leadership bid in July, calling for “libertarian” candidates to unite against hard-liners using the party “as a vehicle for the views of the EDL (English Defence League) and the BNP (British National Party)”.