Ukip leadership contender in row over call for apparent face veils ban in public

A Ukip leadership-hopeful who called for an apparent ban on face veils in public places has insisted her party remains "more relevant than it's ever been" in the wake of the UK's Brexit vote.

Lisa Duffy is one of five candidates aiming to become party leader following the resignation of Nigel Farage.

And she believes the EU referendum result means the party is now entering its "phase two".

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Our party is more relevant than it's ever been.

"We have to keep the pressure on the Government to make sure the right Brexit deal is actually delivered and I think what we have to show the electorate now is we have got a fantastic fully-costed manifesto and our job now is to build on those policies, get more councillors elected and get our party fit for Westminster."

Ms Duffy - who is backed by high-profile former Ukip spokeswoman Suzanne Evans - told Today that she had not called for an outright ban on the Muslim face veil.

"I haven't said ban," she said.

"The policy I'm using is show your face in a public place, areas of high security."

She added: "It's not a religious right. Modest dressing is what they are asked to do within their religion so for me I'm not asking them to do anything that is against their religion."

The contest to replace Mr Farage is missing some of the party's most recognisable names like Ms Evans and the MEP Steven Wolfe, prompting some to question the seriousness of the election.

But Ms Duffy rejected the idea that it was not a serious contest.

She said: "The five candidates that are in the race, four of us are turning up at the hustings on a religious basis, every single night we are here and we are meeting our members."

She also insisted the campaign was not descending into mudslinging as different factions battle for power despite her being accused by a rival of "chasing the bigot vote" after her veil announcement.

"But it isn't," she said.

"It isn't. The next leader has to be a strong leader. They have to be a team builder but they have to understand our party inside and out and not lose the uniqueness that is Ukip."

Ms Duffy also rejected the accusation that without Mr Farage the party was simply unable to agree on anything.

She said the five leadership candidates are "all talking very, very similarly".

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