Ukip's ruling body has permitted an anti-Muslim activist with close links to the far right to stand for its leadership, opening a potentially major division within the party over its future direction.

The party's national executive has approved the candidacy of Anne Marie Waters among the 11 people who will be put to a vote of members next month.

Ukip said in a statement that the executive voted by a majority to allow all 11 to go forward.

A series of senior Ukip members have pledged to resign if Waters wins, a result that would probably finish the party, which received the third biggest share of the vote at the 2015 election, as a mainstream political force.

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