UKIP elects 'anti-Sharia', pro-Assad candidate Nuttall as new leader
A pro-Assad British MEP Paul Nuttall has been elected leader of the right-wing populist party United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP] on Monday, following a bitter battle for the role.
UKIP's new leader will have to unite a party that has experienced a turbulent period following the UK's referendum on European Union membership.
Nuttall, the former deputy leader, will replace Nigel Farage, who retook control of the party in October after his successor Diane James resigned just 18 days after winning a leadership election.
Nuttall secured a landslide victory of 62.6 percent of the vote.
In accepting the result, an MEP for North West England positioned UKIP as a party for disaffected working class supporters of the UK's centre-left Labour Party.
"I want to replace the Labour party and make UKIP the patriotic voice of working people," Nuttall declared at an event in London.
|[Labour] is a hobby horses of human rights, Palestine and climate change than the things that really matter to working people.
- Paul Nuttall, UKIP leader
The new leader had previously claimed that Labour is too preoccupied with its "hobby horses of human rights, Palestine and climate change than the things that really matter to working people".
His words may indeed be a cause for concern for Labour, with recent analysis by the House of Commons showing that UKIP could trump the UK's second party in 13 seats by convincing just one in 50 voters to switch their allegiance.
Misunderstanding the Middle East
Among other controversial claims made by the Nuttall is a charge that Islam has to "everything to do" with terror attacks perpetrated in the name of Islam.
In the aftermath of Tunisia's June 2015 terror attacks, Nuttall wrote that to claim that terror attacks "'have nothing to do with Islam' is so bonkers that those who make this claim should be thrown immediately into a lunatic asylum..these atrocities definitely have everything to do with Islam".
|Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage announced the election result in London [AFP]|
The MEP also once urged Western leaders to realise that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is "not the threat to global peace", but that rather it is radical Islamism.
Like his predecessor, the new UKIP leader has also set his stance on a firmly pro-Israel footing.
"Israel's main problem is its bad PR," Nuttall told a gathering in Jerusalem last year.
"Those who would consider themselves to be pro-Palestine and anti-Israel are more vocal," he said. Nuttall also described the nation that continues to illegally occupy Palestinian land as a "beacon of democracy in a region of undemocratic theocracies".
Israel, Nuttall added, is "surrounded by nations who despise you and plucky good old Israel stands alone for decent values and that's something we should support".
A staunch right-winger
While having expressed controversial views on the reintroduction of the death penalty and limiting abortion, Nuttall is thought to be the best placed to reach out to the working class voters that have drifted from Labour.
The 39-year-old history lecturer's presumed nearest challenger, Suzanne Evans, trailed behind with just 19.3 percent of the 15,045 votes cast. This was only 200 votes more than John Rees Evans, who came third with 18.1 percent.
Despite emerging on the winning 'Brexit' side of the UK's EU membership referendum in June, the party descended into chaos after Farage announced that he would be resigining as party leader. This resulted in numerous public spats between UKIP officials, including a brawl involving two of the party's MEPs, and two leadership elections in rapid succession.