This Party Could Ruin UKIP’s Election By Having A Similar Name
Former UKIP members are fighting back with the help of ballot box confusion. Spot the difference.
A former deputy leader of UKIP who has founded a rebel Eurosceptic party with a similar name has denied that he is attempting to confuse voters, instead telling BuzzFeed that the name is a tribute to Anglo-Dutch relations.
Nigel Farage's party has said it is considering legal action after Mike Nattrass' new "An Independence From Europe" successfully placed the tagline "UK Independence Now" on ballots.
UKIP claims that Nattrass' decision to start the party's name with the word "An" is a deliberate trick to ensure the new party appears at the top of most ballot papers in the forthcoming European elections. The party fears that would-be UKIP supporters may accidentally vote for the wrong party.
But Nattrass, a former UKIP deputy leader who is still a serving MEP, told BuzzFeed that the name was in part a tribute to his Dutch colleagues in the European Parliament.
"I actually chose 'An Independence From Europe' because I've been trying to make friends with people from Holland – and 'An' also means Anglo-Netherlands," he said on the campaign trail in Straford-upon-Avon.
"I suppose I could have gone for 'Aardvark Party' and yes, it is obvious that it comes near the top of the list. I understand that UKIP are angry but they have no rights to the word 'Independence' and I legally registered it with the Electoral Commission a long time ago."
UKIP is threatening the Electoral Commission, which regulates political party names with legal action after it allowed the the rebel party to take the slogan "UK Independence Now".
But a spokesman for the the organisation told BuzzFeed that it may be too late to change anything for May's vote: "Ballots get printed very soon or that may have already actually happened. Obviously it may be too late for this particular election."
"UKIP didn't have an issue with the name but with one of the descriptions that they've been allowed to register. We believe the party descriptions supplied by 'An Independence From Europe' meet the criteria."
The Electoral Commission took responsibility for registering the names of political party names after a spate of complaints in the 1990s, when parties operating under names such as the 'Literal Democrats' took thousands of votes.
Nattrass was elected as a MEP in the 2004 and 2009 elections for the West Midlands but was deselected as UKIP candidate last year. He later quit the party in protest. His new party is fielding a full set of candidates in every English constituency and promises to provide an alternative choice for voters who want Britain to leave Europe.
"UKIP has been taken over by Nigel Farage who is a bad leader of men," Nattrass said. "He upsets people and I don't trust him. A lot of people don't trust him and they're leaving the party."
"But I actually like individuals with strong personalities and we've got strong candidates. All I'm trying to do is get these individuals elected – and I think I'll get elected in the West Midlands."
"Watch our party election broadcast and if you don't laugh I'll refund the cost of your phone call."