Amjad Bashir: My old party is pretty amateur – and it stands only for ruthless self-interest

Amjad Bashir describes Ukip as “pretty amateur” as he talks about his decision to switch parties.

 

 Amjad Bashir and David Cameron in Witney Photo: Will Wintercross/The Telegraph


Amjad Bashir and David Cameron in Witney Photo: Will Wintercross/The Telegraph

I love this country and everything it stands for. England is in my blood – it’s my home, it’s where I made my livelihood, it’s where I raised my family, and it’s where I want future generations to thrive.

It’s the reason why, after a long career in business, I turned to the world of politics to campaign on issues I believe are necessary for the well-being of our great nation.

I wanted a referendum on Europe – to do away with all the bureaucracy and red tape stifling small businesses in the UK – and a controlled immigration system.

I joined Ukip thinking it was a movement dedicated to securing those goals. But I was wrong.

After almost three years as a party member – and seven months as MEP for Yorkshire and Humber – I realise that Ukip is more concerned with furthering its own interests as a political party, than delivering for the British people.

I choose the Conservatives. Not because I’ve changed my mind about Europe and immigration. I haven’t. But because only the Conservative Party can achieve an in/out referendum on Europe and a fair immigration system that works for Britain.

I’ve seen Ukip both at home, and abroad, and I’m sorry to say they’re pretty amateur. In the European Parliament, some of their MEPs think it’s acceptable to shout and fool around.

They don’t want to engage, they just want to ridicule.

But the joke’s on the British taxpayers who are forking out for their MEPs’ £80,000 salaries and getting nothing in return.

Ukip MEPs refuse to acknowledge Europe, so instead they let crucial votes that are harmful to British interests go unchallenged.

This happens day in, day out. It’s not right and it’s not fair.

Ukip haven’t properly thought through the implications of Brexit. There are of course several positive reasons for coming out of Europe. But I’m a pragmatist. Whichever side of the argument you’re on, you have to weigh up all the options.

Ukip made their minds up a long time ago that they wanted out no matter what. Even if they were offered endless supplies of gold from Europe they’d refuse it.

The truth is, Ukip would sooner risk the whole world looking on us as little Englanders than have a grown up debate about Europe.

As for Ukip’s policy, I’ve yet to see it. As their communities spokesman, I recently asked the man who’d been in charge of drawing up Ukip’s general election manifesto for the last year and a half: what policies do you have for me?

He brought out a page of A4 with about three lines on it. For a man on £60,000 a year to produce that is ridiculous. And I’m not the only person in the party who felt that way.

The problem with Ukip is that they think they’re a major party, when they’re not.

They think they’ll sweep up dozens of seats in May, but that’s delusional.

What they are in very real danger of doing, however, is making a big enough dent in the Conservative vote to let Labour in. And that would deny the British people a referendum.

Ukip have become so obsessed with what’s best for them as opposed to what’s good for the country that they’re actually willing to let this happen. This is what I find so galling.

I came to Ukip for the good of this country. I believe there’s a genuine question to be asked – whether we stay in or out of Europe.

I believe we need a referendum. I think Ukip has done its job in bringing that agenda to centre-stage. It’s a terrific achievement.

But now it’s clear that the appetite for political power has swayed them off course.

Where Ukip once campaigned in the interests of the British people, they have now become the party of ruthless self-interest.

My decision to switch my allegiance to the Conservative Party is not intended to cause any embarrassment for Ukip.

This is a principled decision out of deeply held beliefs for the good of this country.

Only the Conservative Party and the leadership of David Cameron will deliver a referendum on Europe and can offer strong immigration controls.

A vote for Ukip will only deliver a Labour Government, which will deny people a say on Europe and control over our borders.

Months away from the most critical general election of our generation, I feel I must do right by my country and support the Conservatives’ plan to secure a better future for Britain.

Daily Telegraph

 


Amjad Bashir: What Came First, The Defection Or The Suspension?

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir has been suspended pending investigations. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir has been suspended pending investigations. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

The Amjad Bashir suspension story is developing by the minute.

What is becoming clear is that he has / was about about to defect to The Conservative Party and has spoke to The Daily Telegraph claiming that UKIP had become a “party of ruthless self-interest” and that UKIP was incapable of delivering a referendum on membership of the EU.

Bashir went on to describe UKIP as “pretty amateur” and condemned its “ridiculous” lack of policies, saying the party was “delusional” over its chances of winning seats in the General Election in May.

Bashir says: “After almost three years as a party member, I realise that Ukip is more concerned with furthering its own interests as a political party than delivering for the British people.

“I’ve seen Ukip both at home, and abroad, and I’m sorry to say they’re pretty amateur. In the European Parliament, some of their MEPs think it’s acceptable to shout and fool around.”

“They think they’ll sweep up dozens of seats in May, but that’s delusional. What they are in very real danger of doing, however, is making a big enough dent in the Conservative vote to let Labour in.”

It’s not clear at the moment what came first, Amjad Bashir’s defection or suspension.

What is clear however is that there is one fewer UKIP MEP’s tonight.

Hope not Hate


Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir defects to Conservative Party

Exclusive: Ukip’s chief spokesman on communities describes the party as “pretty amateur” and condemns its “ridiculous” lack of policies

 Amjad Bashir says that he is going over for practical reasons: only the Tories can achieve real change Photo: London News Pictures/REX


Amjad Bashir says that he is going over for practical reasons: only the Tories can achieve real change Photo: London News Pictures/REX

One of the UK Independence Party’s most senior politicians has defected to the Conservatives in a major blow to Nigel Farage’s general election campaign.

Amjad Bashir, a Ukip MEP and the party’s leading Asian figure, told The Telegraph that Ukip had become a “party of ruthless self-interest” that was incapable of delivering a referendum on membership of the European Union.

In a damning broadside against his former colleagues, he described Ukip as “pretty amateur” and condemned its “ridiculous” lack of policies. He said the party was “delusional” about its chances of winning seats in May.

On Saturday night Ukip suspended Mr Bashir for alleged financial and employment irregularities.

A Ukip spokesman said evidence obtained by the party in its investigations would be sent to the police.

But Mr Bashir described the move as a “desperate attempt” by Ukip to limit the damage of his defection.

He said: “On Friday I met David Cameron and applied to join the Conservative Party. It is clear Ukip’s action today is a desperate attempt to spoil this and is without any foundation.

“The issues raised in my notice of suspension are historic and well known to the party. Indeed, on one of them, Nigel Farage has publicly defended me over it.”

A Ukip source said the party had learned that Mr Bashir was defecting at midday on Saturday. Ukip issued a notice to Mr Bashir suspending him at about 5pm.

Mr Bashir, a Muslim and Ukip’s chief spokesman on communities, said he had decided to defect because only the Conservatives were in a position to control immigration and give voters a say over whether the UK should remain in Europe.

His departure will hurt Mr Farage, who had been planning to energise his election campaign with a round of set-piece media appearances today. Instead, the Ukip leader is now having to deal with the loss of his most prominent figure from an ethnic minority background.

David Cameron said he was “absolutely delighted” to welcome Mr Bashir into the Tory fold and urged voters who have supported Ukip to “come back” to the Conservatives at the general election.

The Prime Minister said that Mr Bashir’s move proved the election was not a “beauty contest” but a straight choice between a competent Conservative government and the “chaos” of Labour under Ed Miliband.

His defection represents a coup for the Tories as the general election campaign enters its final 100 days this week.

Mr Bashir had been one of Ukip’s leading lights even before he was elected to the European Parliament last May as MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber. He had been described as Mr Farage’s “secret weapon”.

As a Pakistani immigrant, he was regularly deployed by spin doctors as evidence that Ukip is not racist, after a succession of activists and candidates made derogatory comments about Muslims and ethnic minorities.

Mr Bashir’s defection will ignite the contest between the Conservatives and Ukip for the votes of Eurosceptics on the Right. It will be particularly welcome for the Tories, after they lost two MPs — Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell — to Ukip last year.

In an article for The Telegraph, Mr Bashir says: “After almost three years as a party member, I realise that Ukip is more concerned with furthering its own interests as a political party than delivering for the British people.

“I’ve seen Ukip both at home, and abroad, and I’m sorry to say they’re pretty amateur. In the European Parliament, some of their MEPs think it’s acceptable to shout and fool around.”

He adds: “They think they’ll sweep up dozens of seats in May, but that’s delusional. What they are in very real danger of doing, however, is making a big enough dent in the Conservative vote to let Labour in.”

Mr Cameron told The Telegraph during a meeting with Mr Bashir that he understood why voters had supported Ukip in the past, when the Coalition had taken some unpopular decisions.

“I understand why some people have drifted away to Ukip,” Mr Cameron said. “I want to genuinely win those people back by saying look, we are the only party that can offer the strong immigration control this country needs; we are the only party that can deliver that referendum that the British people deserve.

“And crucially, this general election is not a by-election, it’s not a beauty contest, it is not a chance to send a message or make a statement, it is about choosing a government of the United Kingdom.”

Mr Cameron said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Amjad has decided to leave Ukip and join the Conservative Party. His story is inspiring. It’s another sign that in this great country of ours you can come to Britain without very much and you can be a member of the European Parliament, an MP, sit in the Cabinet. I think it’s an inspiring story and one I’m very proud to have sitting as a Conservative.”

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron said broadcasters’ new format of two television election debates with seven parties followed by one with just himself and Mr Miliband showed “I was right to say you needed all the minor parties involved”. He said he would “have a good look” at the latest proposals.

Ukip was facing further embarrassment over comments made by the party’s secretary and member of its national executive council, Matthew Richardson, who claimed the party should stand up for “bigots”, according to the Sunday Times.

Mr Richardson allegedly told a meeting last month: “I’ve said before, people talk about Ukip being bigots. There are hundreds of thousands of bigots in the United Kingdom and they deserve representation.”

Daily Telegraph


Suspended Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir defects to the Conservatives

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir, who was suspended by the party for “extremely serious” issues, has defected to the Conservative party.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “absolutely delighted” at the Yorkshire and Humber MEP’s decision.

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir has been suspended pending investigations. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir has been suspended pending investigations. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir has been suspended pending investigations into “extremely serious” issues including unanswered financial and employment questions, a party spokesman said.

The spokesman added: “The UK Independence Party has a zero-tolerance policy and takes the matters at hand extremely seriously. The allegations against Mr Bashir are of a grave nature and we will be forwarding our evidence obtained so far to the police.

UKIP will not tolerate anyone abusing their positions in the party, as we have a firm commitment to differing ourselves from the existing political classes.”

ITV News


UKIP’s small business spokesman accused of hypocrisy after seven immigration arrests at his restaurant

Amjad Bashir has denied any wrongdoing following the raid in June last year, and his family are appealing a civil penalty notice

Seven people were arrested at Amjad Bashir's restaurant

Seven people were arrested at Amjad Bashir’s restaurant

UKIP’s small business spokesman is facing claims of hypocrisy after it emerged seven people were arrested for immigration offences during a raid on his restaurant.

Amjad Bashir’s Manchester restaurant, which he set up with his two sons Tayub and Mudassar, was raided by authorities on June 1 last year, The Times reports.

The family have denied any wrongdoing and party leader Nigel Farage said they are appealing and he was not going to “prejudge” the case.

The newspaper said three days after the raid, UKIP European election candidate Mr Bashir resigned as a director of the company which owns the Zouk Tea Bar and Grill, and a sister branch in Bradford, but he remains a major shareholder and has continued to take a role in the running of the restaurant.

Mr Bashir, 61, is second on UKIP’s list of candidates for the Yorkshire and the Humber region in this month’s European elections.

The Home Office confirmed seven people were arrested “for a variety of immigration offences” and a civil penalty notice was served after the raid.

Tayub Bashir told The Times that they were appealing against the notice and had not yet paid a fine.

He said the restaurant conducted immigration checks on all employees and vigorously denied any wrongdoing.

Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Edward McMillan-Scott said: “Forget the obvious hypocrisy; employing illegal immigrants is exploitative and against the law.”

Daily Mirror