Ben Habib, who was a major Tory donor before he switched to Nigel Farage’s party, told the Sunday Express that he is a “big UKer” and proud of Britain’s place on the world stage. Mr Habib, chief executive of the First Property Group, was born in Pakistan to British and Pakistani parents and sent to Rugby School aged 13, followed by Cambridge University before he launched a career in the City. He is now top of the Brexit Party candidate list for London for the European elections Mr Habib reacted angrily to Mr Umunna’s description of the Brexit Party as “xenophobic”.
“I am partly of Pakistani origin. There are many candidates of mixed ethnicity in our terrific party. You have the wrong end of the stick. May we please meet to discuss your prejudices? Anytime that suits you.”
Mr Umunna has not responded but Mr Habib is confident that he is one of a slate of Brexit Party candidates set to win.
Mr Habib, who is No1 on the Brexit Party’s London list, said he was a major donor to the Conservative Party and had been on first-name terms with cabinet ministers.
But George Osborne’s Project Fear campaign during the 2016 referendum made him enter frontline politics.
He said: “I could hardly believe what I was hearing. It was preposterous.We were being told the housing market would collapse, GDP would collapse, unemployment would shoot up, there would be a banking collapse. It was all untrue and completely ridiculous.
“The same is now being said about no-deal.We need to have pride in Britain and its place on the world stage.There’s nothing wrong with that.The banking sector is extremely robust now, we have the world’s fifth-biggest economy, we have the English language, London, a stable legal system, so much going for us.
“All we need to do is to grasp the opportunity Brexit gives us.”
He believes that free trade deals with countries like the US will mean new prosperity. He said: “I say all this as somebody who loves Europe and has business interests in the EU, including Romania.”