The new leader of Ukip believes his election has saved the party from becoming the “UK Nazi Party”.
Henry Bolton beat the two favourites, Anne-Marie Walters, a controversial activist who described herself as “an opponent” of Islam, and Peter Whittle, who has publicly spoken of his opposition to boycotts of Israel.
Backed by former leader Nigel Farage, Mr Bolton won the leadership contest last Friday with 3,874 votes — almost 30 per cent of those cast — around 1,100 ahead of Ms Walters.
Asked in a press conference whether his victory meant the party had avoided becoming a British version of the Nazis, he said: “Absolutely, yes.”
Mr Bolton indicated he would take a softer line on Islam than his opponents had pledged, although he has previously suggested the party has a “problem”.
“I absolutely abhor the rhetoric that says we are at war with Islam,” he said. “My platform is a broad one for delivering for the British people across the place, it is not focused on Islam.”
He had previously warned Ukip could swing towards “something far darker” under “the wrong leadership”.
Mr Bolton was not a high-profile figure in the leadership race and is not known to have ever expressed any views on Jewish issues or the Middle East conflict.
He received an OBE in 2013 for services to international security. He is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, is a former army officer and has expertise in foreign policy and borders.
A Liberal Democrat candidate in the 2005 general election, Mr Bolton joined Ukip three years ago.