David Coburn, gay Scottish UKIP leader, quits party over far-right shift

UK Independence Party Member of the European Parliament David Coburn

UKIP’s two most senior gay figures, Scottish leader David Coburn and London Assembly Member Peter Whittle, have quit the party in protest of its shift to the far right.

David Coburn, the UKIP Member of the European Parliament for the Scotland, followed former leaders Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall in quitting UKIP.

In a statement, Coburn condemned the “infiltration” of the party by far-right nationalists and questioned UKIP’s courting of former English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known as Tommy Robinson.

Coburn wrote: “It is with great sadness that after 10 years, I announce my resignation from UKIP.”

David Coburn MEP speaks at UKIP conference 2017

David Coburn MEP addresses party members during the UKIP Annual Spring Conference at the Macron Stadium on February 17, 2017 in Bolton, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

He added: “We have seen an increase in English Nationalists joining UKIP. As a Unionist, I abhor English Nationalism as much as I abhor Scottish Nationalism.

“The party has been infiltrated by people with an alternative agenda, which is not the one on which I stood when I was elected and sadly, does not represent the values for which UKIP once stood.

“I did not run on an anti-Islam platform. Unfortunately, this seems to be the direction that UKIP is taking – obsessing about this issue to the exclusion of all else at a time when we might lose the Brexit we fought so hard for.”

The party’s only other out LGBT+ elected official, London Assembly Member Peter Whittle, also confirmed his resignation from UKIP.

Several of the resigning UKIP politicians have spoken out about the party’s recently-bolstered anti-LGBT policies.

UKIP MEP William Dartmouth claimed the party has been “hijacked” by homophobic, anti-Islamic extremists when he quit in September

Meanwhile, MEP Bill Etheridge quit the party in October, branding it a “vehicle of hate” towards gay people and Muslims.

Of the 24 UKIP MEPs elected in 2016, just nine remain in office and in the party.

Scottish UKIP leader David Coburn hit out at ‘equality Nazis’

The departure of gaffe-prone Scottish UKIP leader David Coburn leaves UKIP with no representation in Scotland.

Coburn was forced to deny being racist in 2015 after comparing Scottish government minister Humza Yousaf to convicted terrorist Abu Hamza. He also compared then-SNP leader Alex Salmond to dictator Robert Mugabe.

Despite being gay, Coburn was a fierce critic of the gay rights movement, claiming in 2014 that same-sex marriage supporters are “equality Nazis” – and suggesting in 2015 that the Lib Dems and Labour want to ban him from having sex.

In the run-up to the 2016 Scottish elections, Coburn blamed the EU for his broken toaster and launched a manifesto pledging to make ‘political correctness’ in schools illegal.