UKIP AM Caroline Jones quits party over ‘far-right move’

Caroline Jones Image caption Caroline Jones lost a leadership election to Gareth Bennett in the summer

The former leader of the UKIP group in the Welsh Assembly has resigned from the party.

Caroline Jones claimed UKIP leader Gerard Batten was alienating his members by moving the party to the far-right.

The AM for South Wales West, who will now sit as an independent, said UKIP was taking “a direction that I’m not comfortable with”.

But Mr Batten said her statement was “politically correct twaddle”.

The resignation means the UKIP group has four AMs left from the seven which entered the Senedd in 2016.

Image caption Gerard Batten has taken the party in “a direction I’m not comfortable with”, Caroline Jones said

She told BBC Wales: “The party has taken a direction that I’m not comfortable with.”

Mrs Jones said Mr Batten was changing the party “to a more far-right position, which a lot of the long-standing members are finding quite unfavourable, including myself”.

“I never joined the party to be part of a far-right organisation. I joined the party because I wanted to come out of the European Union. I still do.”

“Gerard Batten should listen to all sides and try to mediate and bring people together, as opposed to alienating them”, she added.

‘Politically ineffective’

Mr Batten was appointed leader earlier this year, after former UKIP leader Henry Bolton was sacked.

He is the fourth person to lead UKIP following the EU referendum.

Caroline Jones took over the UKIP group in May after she was backed by David Rowlands and Michelle Brown in a vote.

However, Welsh UKIP members voted over the summer for Gareth Bennett to succeed her and lead the assembly group.

Mr Batten said: “I have brought the party back from financial meltdown, raised funds, raised membership numbers, and raised UKIP in the polls. Ms Jones has contributed nothing that I am aware of.”

He added: “Her statement is politically correct twaddle to disguise the fact that Mrs Jones is politically ineffective. I wish her well languishing in the outer realms of irrelevance.”

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