Raheem Kassam quits Ukip race and blames 'disgraceful' media
The maverick Kipper sounded even more like Donald Trump than before as he abandoned his leadership bid.
Raheem Kassam has announced that he is pulling out of the Ukip leadership contest with a moan about the treatment dished out to him by the media.
Kassam had been trailing Paul Nuttal and Suzanne Evans in the Ukip leadership race. Today he announced that he was formally suspending his campaign having realised that “the path to victory is too narrow”.
The right wing journalist and former staffer to Nigel Farage had been determined to brand himself as the ‘Faragist’ candidate, while his campaign slogan of ‘Make Ukip Great Again’ echoed Donald Trump’s motto.
In a statement announcing his decision to pull out, Kassam echoed Trump as he cited “disgraceful treatment by the media”.
Kassam, who has been widely criticised for his abusive outbursts on Twitter, singled out a Times reporter. “Billy Kenber at the Times has a lot to answer for and I will be pursuing a harassment complaint further,” he said.
In the US, Trump has frequently slammed the "disgraceful" media for picking on him and allegedly favouring Hillary Clinton.
A spokesman for the Times later said: "Last week a Times reporter had a very short, polite conversation with a family member. It is standard reporting practice to talk to friends and family when writing a profile about someone seeking political office."
Explaining his decision, Kassam also pointed to concerns that "the top of the party is treating this like a coronation".
And he cited struggles with fundraising - despite having been backed by the wealthy Ukip donor Arron Banks. The comments suggest that despite his initial endorsement, Banks was not willing to cough up campaign funds.
Kassam has encouraged his supporters to back Peter Whittle, but the announcement means that Nuttal, former deputy Ukip leader, now looks set to seize the Ukip crown.
Kassam’s statement in full:
As of today, I am formally suspending my campaign for UKIP leader.
After much consideration, I have decided not to pursue my campaign to be UKIP leader any further. This was a very difficult decision, and I want to thank everyone who supported me in the process.
It is a decision I have not taken lightly, but following meetings this weekend I realised the path to victory is too narrow. I would encourage my supporters to back Peter Whittle, who I think would make a fantastic leader of the party.
On their own, the following issues would not have caused me to take this decision, but taken together, the following reasons created an impossible route forward for me:
1. The top of the party is treating this like a coronation: I am not satisfied about the integrity of the process, and having put a number of complaints in to the party chairman, I was disappointed that incidents whereby Members of the European Parliament are using party databases to effectively campaign against me – ostensibly against the rules – were not challenged.
2. Disgraceful treatment by the media: I am tough and I can take it, but whenTimes journalists show up at my elderly parents’ house at dusk, intimidating them, I draw the line. Billy Kenber at the Times has a lot to answer for and I will be pursuing a harassment complaint further.
3. Fundraising: While we raised enough for our deposit, and got over 200 assentors to my nomination, we could not raise enough for this to be more than a digital campaign run from SW1, and to not feature at events all around the country would have made me a hypocrite, given how much I criticise the establishment for ignoring the country.
Over the next few weeks I will be providing a statement of accounts for all my donors, and in-keeping with my money pledge on my website, I will be giving them the choice as to what happens with the remainder of the money they donated. I will suggest we either: donate to the Royal British Legion or Help for Heroes, donate to the party, donate to Peter Whittle’s campaign. Those who want refunds are welcome to contact me.
I wish the UK Independence Party and whoever its new leader is all the best in ensuring Brexit happens, and in the upcoming electoral tests next year. I remain commited to the causes of the UK Independence Party, but sadly, at this campaign, it was a bridge too far for us.
I will be continuing at my job as Editor in Chief of Breitbart London, returning to the United States this week to cover the last leg of the presidential elections.”
Picture by: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Press Association Images