UK

Nigel Farage 'frustrated' over UKIP policy-making

Nigel Farage in London on 31 March Image copyright Getty Images

UKIP leader Nigel Farage says he is frustrated he cannot make sweeping changes to the way the party makes policy and recruits members.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he wants to slash joining fees from £30 to £10 and let members vote online to decide policy.

Mr Farage said: "I'm frustrated that this idea which has been around for a long time hasn't been put into action.

"And frankly I don't have the power and ability to do this myself."

Leading figures in UKIP suspect he is set to rebrand the party after the EU referendum in June.

Some also believe he could try to launch a new political movement.

'Sense of grievance'

The UKIP leader is an admirer of the anti-establishment activist Beppe Grillo whose Five Star Movement has become a major force in Italian politics, driven in part by engaging with voters online.

Some of Mr Farage's colleagues suspect he could use voter data collected by the Leave.EU referendum campaign and funds from its backer Arron Banks to embark on a fresh political project.

Mr Banks himself has been quoted suggesting UKIP could be rebranded or disbanded.

One UKIP politician said: "That is clearly the strand of thinking at the top.

"They're not particularly interested in winning the referendum and they'd rather replicate the SNP scenario which is lose the primary objective of the party but create such a sense of grievance you win in the polls and do rather well."

Another said rumours of a move of this sort had circulated for months, and added: "It would be very interesting how UKIP supporters would take a view of Nigel planning to disband the party with a clickocracy."

Leadership contest?

A recent report suggesting there could be a secret post-referendum plan has prompted intense discussions between senior UKIP figures about the possibility of radical change.

Sources close to Mr Farage insist there are no such plans, but acknowledge the party's structure and direction is a constant source of debate.

His critics believe he is planning an upheaval to protect his position after the referendum, which will be held on 23 June on whether the UK will remain a member of the European Union or not.

They accuse him of seeking a flood of new members, like those who flocked to vote for Jeremy Corbyn during Labour's leadership election, to strengthen his support.

Many in UKIP, including some vigorous supporters of Mr Farage, think a leadership contest after the referendum is inevitable.

Internal tensions were heightened after the former deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans was suspended.

Responding to the story, Ms Evans tweeted: "Policy can't be made at the click of a mouse. It's far, far more complex than counting a set of instant opinions."

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