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Revealed: Ukip membership surge shifts party to far right

A surge in Ukip membership is shifting the party decisively towards the far right, as long-standing moderates are replaced by entrants attracted by an anti-Islam agenda based on street protest, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

Membership has risen by about 50% over the 12 months from a low point a year ago, rapidly reshaping the party in the image of its leader, Gerard Batten, who describes Islam as “a death cult” and has appointed the anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson as an adviser.

Conversations with more than two dozen current and former Ukip figures, many of them senior, have uncovered an exodus of more moderate senior members and local organisers, hollowing out Ukip’s ability to fight future elections.

Sources say many of the 8,000 or so newcomers who have joined in recent months appear to be younger and more radical, attracted both by Robinson and the party’s links to controversial YouTube agitators.

Analysts warn that with Ukip’s poll numbers rising amid the continued deadlock over Brexit there is a danger the party could soon be reinvented as a street movement, becoming the first significant far-right force in UK politics since the demise of the British National party (BNP).

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