‘And so, with a heavy heart, and after all my years of devotion to the party, I am leaving Ukip today,’ he wrote in The Telegraph. ‘There is a huge space for a Brexit party in British politics, but it won’t be filled by Ukip.’
Speaking later on LBC, Mr Farage accused Mr Batten of ‘turning a blind eye to extremism’ and attempting to turn the party from an ‘electoral’ force into a ‘party of street activism’.
Nigel Farage (seen speaking at the European Parliament on November 29, 2018) has long opposed the appointment of Tommy Robinson to Ukip
Mr Farage announced last month he would write to the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) to demand a vote of no confidence in Mr Batten, but this was voted down on Sunday.
Tonight he hit out at Mr Batten for becoming ‘obsessed with Islam, not just Islamic extremism’ and allowing convicted criminals to join the party.
He told LBC: ‘Mr Gerard Batten seems to be pretty obsessed with the issue of Islam, not just Islamic extremism, but specifically, Islam. Ukip was not founded to be a party based on fighting a religious crusade.
‘He is also obsessed with this figure called Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.
‘He is seen by some to be a great hero standing up and fighting for working class people but who has a pretty suspect record and who brings with him a group of people, I’m afraid, amongst with we see scuffles and violence. Many have criminal records – some pretty serious.
‘And all of its been dragging Ukip away from being an electoral party into being a party of street activism… this direction is catastrophic, particularly at a time when the great Brexit betrayal is upon us.’
Mr Batten tweeted tonight: ‘I hear that Nigel Farage has resigned from UKIP. Nigel & I were founder members of UKIP in 1993.
‘I have always given him full credit for his work in UKIP bringing about and winning the Referendum. However, I feel that he left UKIP in spirit after the Referendum.’
Yesterday, Ukip also lost its former deputy chairwoman, Suzanne Evans, who said she had become ‘increasingly alarmed’ by the ‘perverse direction’ Mr Batten was taking the Eurosceptic party.
Announcing her decision, Ms Evans said that ‘the NEC and Ukip MEPs might be willing to turn a blind eye to the obvious attempts by Gerard and Tommy Robinson to orchestrate a ‘Momentum-style’ takeover of Ukip, but I am not’.
She said: ‘I was hoping, yesterday, that sense would prevail; that Ukip’s National Executive Committee would call for a no confidence vote in Batten, so the party could be prevented from taking a devastatingly wrong turn.
‘But if even those elected to represent ordinary members won’t protect Ukip from a leader who appears hell bent on destroying it from within, then there is no hope left.’
In a statement on Sunday, Ukip said that it ‘does not endorse the appointment of Tommy Robinson in any advisory role’, adding: ‘He is not a Ukip member and through his associations he is barred from joining Ukip.’
Mr Batten previously defended his decision to give Mr Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, a role advising him on rape gangs and prison reform, describing the EDL co-founder as ‘courageous’.
He denied moving Ukip to the extremes or opening its doors to racists, and told the BBC Mr Robinson would help him turn the party into a ‘mass movement… a party for ordinary people’.
Gerard Batten appointed the former EDL leader as an adviser on rape gangs and prison reform. They are pictured in an undated photo
He attacked Mr Farage on Monday, tweeting: ‘Nigel Farage failed to get the UKIP MEPs to even have a vote of no confidence in me last Wed in Brussels.
‘He failed to get a vote through at yesterday’s NEC. Now he’s reduced to doing the rounds in the MSM attacking me. My crime? UKIP isn’t disappearing under my leadership.’
But MEPs including Patrick O’Flynn, Bill Etheridge and William Dartmouth have all quit the party in recent months over the direction of travel within the party.
Mr Robinson is expected to feature prominently in a Brexit march in London two days before the Commons votes on the UK’s EU withdrawal deal at which Mr Batten is due to speak.
Ukip said the December 9 march had not been organised by the party, but added: ‘Members are free to attend should they wish.’