Gerard Batten, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), has urged members to vote in favour of allowing activist Tommy Robinson, whose real is name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, to join the party.
In a letter sent to members on Wednesday, Batten said he thinks Robinson should be allowed to join UKIP despite his former association with the English Defence League (EDL), which he founded in 2009.
Batten announced plans to propose a motion at the next NEC gathering on Sunday, giving members the opportunity to vote on whether or not Robinson should be granted a waiver, potentially allowing his membership application to be referred to the party chairman.
“If a majority of Party members vote in favour of the proposition, then the chairman and NEC will consider his application at the NEC meeting following the result of the ballot.”
In his letter, the UKIP leader also stressed he does not support lifting the ban on proscribed members joining the party, insisting it should be maintained “as it protects us from wholesale infiltration by unwanted elements.“
UKIP’s constitution forbids current or former members of a range of political parties and groups – including the EDL, the British National Party (BNP), and the National Front – from joining, in a bid to prevent extremists from dominating the party.
In September, Robinson said the British working class will be “electrified” if he is allowed to join UKIP, claiming that “the left-wing media is terrified” of this prospect.