A prominent British-Indian member of the UK Independence Party has quit in protest at the party’s “racist” immigration policy.
Sanjya-Jeet Thandi’s announcement comes just days after UKIP leader Nigel Farage praised his party’s “inclusivity” after sharing a stage with a host of black and ethnic minority party candidates.
However, Ms Thandi, 21, said she has quit because of UKIP’s protestations at immigrants taking British jobs.
Writing in the Guardian, Thandi said: “UKIP is exploiting the stupidity of ignorant anti-immigrant voters for electoral gain. While the party deliberately attracts the racist vote, I refuse to be associated with them.
“There was none of this “they took our jobs” business in the party’s youth wing when I joined three years ago. UKIP’s immigration policy, to me, was all about equality for every nationality; it was about treating Europeans and people outside the EU equally.
“But the recent racism scandals suggest that most other Ukip voters and members support the policy and the party, for a very different reason”, Ms Thandi added.
In recent weeks, UKIP has been ridiculed after one candidate described Islam as “pure evil” while another tweeted that Jamaican-origin comedian Lenny Henry should be sent to a “black country”.
Mr Farage however, claimed that people with “offensive and idiotic” views had managed to “sneak in” to UKIP’s ranks, despite his efforts to keep out candidates with extreme views.
He insisted they did not represent the party.
“I don’t care what you call us, but from this moment on, please do not call us a racist party”, he said.
Ms Thandi disagreed, saying she was particularly alarmed at a recent UKIP campaign poster which raised the question: “26m people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?”
She wrote: “The poster epitomises where the party is going wrong. This anti-immigrant campaign undermines UKIP’s claim not to be a racist party. They are turning the election into a game of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Well, I am with ‘them’.”
It’s a significant about-turn for Ms Thandi, an Anthropology undergraduate at the prestigious London School of Economics and member of UKIP’s “Youth-Kip Generation” of ambitious young future leaders .
Speaking to Channel 4 during the party’s conference last September she said that whilst UKIP supported “equality” for all immigrants, immigration should be limited because “Hello! We live on an island. It’s kind of small”.
Ms Thandi’s departure will be a blow to UKIP, just days before Local and European Union elections on 22 May during which the party is expected to make big gains.