Labour Donor: UKIP A 'Big Worry' After Brexit Referendum

04/06/2016_Nigel Farage
UKIP leader Nigel Farage in the Netherlands April 4, 2016. Could UKIP steal more of Labour's voters? Michael Kooren/Reuters

The possible threat from a resurgent U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) after Britain's EU referendum is a "big worry" for Britain's Labour Party, one of its biggest donors has said.

John Mills, a businessman who serves as Deputy Chair of the Euroskeptic Vote Leave group and a major donor to Labour, tells Newsweek : "I think that the intention [for UKIP] is to try and get something off the ground in the U.K. like the Five Star Movement in Italy, and to try and peel off substantial amounts of largely Labour but other political support as well.

"One of the problems about having such a Europhile [Labour] party in the House of Commons is that this doesn't reflect the views of large numbers of Labour-leaning potential voters and it's opening up schisms.

"One of the worries... is whether this is going to encourage significant numbers of Labour-leaning voters to move to a more UKIP-type stance. I think this is a big worry for the Labour party."

Politico and the BBC have reported that UKIP's leader, Nigel Farage, may remodel his party after the referendum as a pro-democracy movement similar to the Five Star Movement launched in Italy by the comedian Beppe Grillo.

Mills said that he would not be interested in supporting such a group.

Mills added that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and some of his allies, who have held Euroskeptic views in the past, "feel they just can't fight too many battles on too many fronts at once and therefore are going along with the Parliamentary Labour Party consensus in favour of supporting the Remain camp."

He said that "a lot of Labour supporters" were "puzzled... that the Labour party hasn't really got a positive series of policy changes that they'd like to see implemented which go along the lines that... working-class voters would like to see."

Mills's comments come alongside another pro-Brexit intervention from the left. On Wednesday morning, David Owen, ex-leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and a former Labour Foreign Secretary, said in a speech that leaving the EU was necessary to protect Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

In an article to promote the event, Owen wrote that the upcoming US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would endanger the service.

"We in the cross-party Vote Leave Campaign," he wrote, "share a common democratic commitment. We will restore legal powers and democratic control of the NHS to voters in the UK. If we vote Leave — we will be able to protect our NHS from EU interference."