'˜We didn't import Catholicism from abroad': We meet Anne-Marie Waters, leader of For Britain

An elected NHS, police bosses going to prison if they do not prosecute certain criminals, and an Irish policy that could force soldiers back on to the streets of Belfast.

Wednesday, 14th March 2018, 5:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th March 2018, 5:55 pm

Anne-Marie Waters only founded the party in October, but was keen to give their views on a range of topics, beginning with Brexit where she wants a “complete withdrawal” from the EU, regardless of the cost.

Ms Waters, who was born in Dublin but considers herself British, said: “I’d rather not have a hard border with Ireland. But if Ireland continues to have so much immigration then we have to have a hard border.

“It’s Ireland’s fault.”

Ms Waters added: “The people in Northern Ireland will have to deal with that. And to me it’s the most difficult element (of Brexit).

“It could do real damage. It could bring back memories of soldiers on the streets again.

“And it could reignite the demand for a united Ireland.”

Closer to home, Ms Waters said she wants a review of bureaucracy across the NHS, although she was not clear which organisations would or would not be included in the review.

When pushed for detail she said: “Our job is to point out the injustices and wrongs.

“Then people who know these areas can do the reviews.”

She added: “Let’s think about an elected NHS, starting with the clinical commissioning groups, and eventually the hospital chief executives.”

For Britain also call for direct democracy in policing.

Their manifesto calls for police commanders to be “accountable for any failure to enforce the law,” and if they are found to have not done their job they could be fired or even jailed.

Ms Waters said: “It’s a statement of principle. It’s up to the people who are in there to work it out.”

Elected chief constables is a policy that Ms Waters said was up for debate within the party.

“Elected police would be more accountable,” she said. “But this could turn them into politicians.

“This question needs to be put to our members.”

>Anne-Marie Waters on... Islam

Much of the press coverage surrounding Anne-Marie Waters has centred upon her view on Islam, but she says she has no problem with individual Muslims, only the religion.

But does she have any friends who are Muslims?

“I have had Muslim friends,” she told the Citizen. “But I don’t really mix in circles where Muslims would be around.

“That’s largely through moving on in life. Most things I’m involved with most Muslims wouldn’t get involved in.”

Ms Waters referred to Islam’s view of women and of sexual abuse, but she was reminded of scandals with other religions.

She said: “There are problems with all religions, and yes the Catholic Church has been awful in history. But we didn’t import Catholicism from another country.”

Ms Waters then corrected herself.

“Well, we did, but that doesn’t mean we should import other religions.”

Ms Waters said she believes the teachings of the Koran are not compatible with 21st century Britain. What does she think of some sections in The Bible which do not fit with her own morality?

“The Bible says a lot of things. But if you’re not doing them it doesn’t matter.”

>Anne-Marie Waters on... British citizenship

Although neither Ms Waters nor her partner were born in Britain, she believes the process of becoming a British citizen is too easy.

And while there is no official For Britain policy yet, Ms Waters said that the process should take far longer, and suggested a period of 15 years.

She said: “It was seven years when my partner became a British citizen. It should be longer and more exclusive.

“It seems to me that it’s given out far too easily.”

One policy the party does have is banning all immigration from countries where the majority of people are Muslims.

Instead the party wants all immigrants to be “from culturally appropriate countries”, as well as a complete moratorium on asylum seekers.

Ms Waters said: “There’s nothing wrong with people moving all around the world. People can learn from each other.

“But we can’t give up our sense of morality in order to take in immigrants who aren’t compatible.”

>Anne-Marie Waters on... The police

Ms Waters said that circumstances make it difficult for venues to host For Britain events.

She said: “Police won’t tell venues they shouldn’t host use. But they will tell them ‘Do you know who you’re hosting?’.”

>Anne-Marie Waters on... For Britain’s message

Ms Waters said: “There are things happening in this country.

“There’s censorship, and there are slurs and lies about people who are telling uncomfortable truths.

“We’re not allowed to talk about the enormously negative impact of immigration, particularly from certain societies.”

She hesitated to say that delays by the Electoral Commission in registering For Britain were deliberate, but added: “It’s possible.

“I want to say that - but I don’t know.”

>Anne-Marie Waters on... UKIP

Ms Waters first came to prominence when she stood to become leader of UKIP last year. After finishing second she resigned to form For Britain.

She said: “I don’t sit here thinking about UKIP. But I think they’re probably a spent force.”

She had no positive words about Henry Bolton, who beat her in the leadership race only to lose his role in disgrace in February.

Ms Waters said: “That gave me a sly little grin and snigger.”

>Anne-Marie Waters on... Milton Keynes

Ms Waters was in Milton Keynes to meet local supporters and potential converts.

Although she did not know the exact number of For Britain members in the city she said it was “definitely in double figures”.

Ms Waters, who stood for election as a Labour Party councillor in 2010, twice tried to be shortlisted as a Labour Parliamentary candidate after that, and later joined UKIP before forming her own party, said: “I’ve been standing on this platform for a long, long time.”

For Britain will hold another public event, on Saturday (March 17), at a venue which will be publicly announced on Friday.