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UKIP fires chair of youth wing over pro-gay marriage beliefs

UKIP fires chair of youth wing over pro-gay marriage beliefs

The chairman of the Young Independents, a wing of the UKIP party, was fired after revealing his support for marriage equality.

Olly Neville, 20, took to Twitter late on 8 January claiming party authorities ‘insulted his intelligence’ on gay marriage.

The former leader then posted two screengrabs of emails from Stephen Crowther, chairman of the UK Independence Party, condemning him for his comments he made during an interview with the BBC on New Year’s Eve.

In the email which was later deleted, Crowther said: ‘Your stated position on gay marriage is quite simply completely at odds with the party’s policy.

‘Our policy on gay marriage is extremely important to us at this time. We have said specifically and repeatedly that we are opposed to the government’s proposals on this and that the Prime Minister had got it spectacularly wrong.

‘For you to say precisely the opposite, on national radio, as the representative of YI, is absolutely unacceptable, and risks seriously setting back the party’s current growth.’

Crowther also objected to Neville’s comments on Europe, in which he said the MEP elections were a ‘sideshow’ and Westminster is ‘where the action is.’

In response to this, Crowther told Neville these comments were ‘politically inept’, as ‘it is self-evident we have no MPs’.

‘You are therefore providing ammunition to the media and our opponents to say we are irrelevant,’ he said.

Neville then posted a second email from Crowther, saying the party’s executive committee had resolved he should no longer act as interim chairman of YI.

When Neville joined the Euro-sceptic party at the age of 18, he described it as ‘the only political party I have ever been a member of and the only one I would ever want to be in.’

The sacking of Neville has left many young supporters of UKIP outraged, and some said they would resign from the party to support him.

Gareth Shanks tweeted: ‘NEC have decided to remove @OllyNeville as YI chair. I have also resigned the position as elections officer as protest.’

In December it was revealed UKIP leader Nigel Farage intended to exploit divisions in the Conservative party over gay marriage, in an attempt to win more votes in future elections.

UPDATE: In a statement made to Gay Star News, Crowther said it was ‘not the case’ Neville was removed for his support for gay marriage, but ‘stating policy views which are in contradiction to party policy’.