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150124bashirfarage

Amjad Bashir and Nigel Farage in happier times. The man in the background may be UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall, but it is hard to tell for sure.

 

UKIP’s leaders must know this move makes them look very suspicious indeed. What are they trying to achieve?

The party has suspended MEP Amjad Bashir, hours before he was to announce his defection to the Conservatives, according to the BBC.

The allegations against him include claims of interference with the candidate selection process, and UKIP’s website stated that one of the reasons Mr Bashir has been suspended was his “continued affiliation” with Mujeeb Bhutto, who was involved in a Pakistani kidnapping gang.

A UKIP spokesperson has said the evidence will be forwarded to the police.

Mr Bashir has rejected the claims as “absurd and made-up allegations”. He said they were historical claims over which UKIP leader Nigel Farage had appeared on TV to defend him, adding, “these are just dirty tricks to try and discredit me.”

He had previously been a Conservative Party member, and became involved with UKIP three years ago. He has said his decision to return to the Tories is in order to carry out the policies he supports, including holding a referendum on EU membership and control of immigration into the UK.

He claimed these are “not achievable with UKIP.”

On this evidence, the public can only think that UKIP is in the wrong. If these allegations are old, if Nigel Farage spoke against them, then UKIP’s move can only be interpreted as the “dirty tricks” Mr Bashir claims they are – even though Mr Farage is now saying there are “extremely serious” questions that have gone unanswered.

The evidence means either Mr Farage was wrong to defend Mr Bashir in the past, or he is wrong to cast suspicion on Mr Bashir now.

Meanwhile, the Tories are suddenly smelling of roses.

Not only do they get a new MEP for free (Mr Bashir has refused to step down and trigger a by-election), but they benefit from his claims that they are the only party that can achieve his referendum and immigration aims, and from the fouling of UKIP’s name.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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