UKIP’s leader has dismissed Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, telling Sky News it is "not a proper political party".

Gerard Batten said the former UKIP leader’s new venture was a vehicle for one man and added: All you get from Nigel is rhetoric.

One opinion poll predicts the Brexit Party could win next month’s European elections, with suggestions many UKIP voters are switching to the new party.

But speaking on the day UKIP launched its campaign, Mr Batten told Sky’s All Out Politics that things could change with five weeks to go until polling day on 23 May.

He added that UKIP was putting up 1,400 candidates in the local elections on 2 May, adding: The Brexit Party doesn’t have any candidates, because it’s not a proper political party.

Mr Batten claimed that in contrast to Mr Farage we don’t just say ‘leave means leave’, we tell you how we would do it, how it would work, what it would look like.

He added: All you get from Nigel is rhetoric.

When asked what his pitch to voters would be, he said: We stand for a clear unimpeded exit, unconditional, unilateral withdrawal.

No ifs, no buts, leave and leave according to the way we say it should be done. So they can send a message to Westminster.

During the interview, Mr Batten was challenged about his defence of a UKIP candidate who said they wouldn’t even rape Labour MP Jess Phillips.

The UKIP leader came under fire for describing Carl Benjamin’s tweet as satire.

That was in the context of a Twitter exchange, it wasn’t a literal statement, Mr Batten said.

It was an ill-considered statement, I certainly wouldn’t endorse it.

But Carl Benjamin is on our list because he joined UKIP some time ago, he’s one of our supporters and he can get us access to a lot of people on alternative media, social media, which we are not going to get…we’re not going to get a fair show in the mainstream media.

Challenged further in a separate interview with Sky News political correspondent Kate McCann, Mr Batten angrily declared how many times are you going to ask me the same question? and walked out.

Mr Batten was also asked whether UKIP was hostile towards Islam.

The UKIP leader, who has described the religion as a death cult, said: We are not hostile to people or groups of people, I just have said a few things about the ideology (of Islam), because that’s what people are concerned about.

Responding to Mr Batten’s criticism, Mr Farage told Sky News his former party has gone down the wrong path.

UKIP was a big part of my life, he said.

For me to leave that, meant something had gone fundamentally wrong. And the truth of it is that most of the decent people have left it.
(c) Sky News 2019: UKIP’s Gerard Batten dismisses Brexit Party as a ‘vehicle’ for Nigel Farage