UKIP membership in Scotland on the rise despite resignation of senior figures

UKIP has claimed its membership in Scotland has risen in the past year despite the party’s only elected representative quitting in a row over its future direction.

MEP David Coburn was one of a number of high-profile members who resigned in protest at the “anti-Isalmic platform” adopted by UK leader Gerard Batten.

Former leader Nigel Farage also quit in December, claiming the party was no longer following his policy of excluding extremists from its ranks.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But membership has risen 50 per cent UK-wide in the last 12 months, with analysis by The Guardian suggesting the party can now boast around 8,000 new recruits.

Protesters march through the city during a UKIP-backed Brexit betrayal rally in London. Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty

Growth in Scotland has been more modest, with the party claiming its membership is in “the low four figures”.

Donald Mackay, the party’s acting leader north of the Border, told The Scotsman he hoped to field at least 10 candidates if a snap general election was to be called in the wake of Brexit.

“In the last three or four months there’s not been a week where we haven’t signed up new members or had people inquiring about joining,” he said.

“We’re now in the process of selecting candidates should a snap general election be called.”

UKIP stood 10 candidates in Scotland at the 2017 general election. All lost their deposits, with none of them winning more than 1.4% of the vote.

The party has never returned an MSP to Holyrood at any Scottish parliamentary election.

Mr Mackay said he “did not recognise” reports that UKIP was drifting to the far right.

Nigel Farage previously called for UKIP leader Gerard Batten to be ousted after he appointed English Defence League (EDL) founder Tommy Robinson as an adviser, claiming the “party’s direction has changed fundamentally”.

But Mr Mackay said the party’s position in Scotland was unchanged. “We’re focusing on getting a proper Brexit and supporting the Union,” he said. “The people in the party up here have not changed.”

Since Batten became leader in 2018 he has proposed new policies including extra checks for immigrants from Islamic countries and creating Muslim-only prisons.

A number of UKIP MEPs quit the party, including Mr Coburn, as a result. Of the 24 MEPs elected at the 2014 European elections, only seven now remain.