British TV personality Robert Kilroy-Silk has launched a new political party, promising tough action on immigration
and the European Union.
Calling the new party Veritas, the Latin word for truth, Kilroy-Silk told audiences in London on Wednesday that he would offer the electorate "straight talk".
The 62-year-old former talk show host first entered politics by helping the UK Independence Party (UKIP) win seats last year in European elections, picking up one for himself along the way.
But now is expected to attract fans to his new party as he is already a household name among middle-class Britons who are likely to be most swayed by his populist rhetoric against the European Union, immigration and crime.
Born in Britain's second city Birmingham, and educated at the London School of Economics, silver-haired Kilroy-Silk, 62, was a university lecturer before he became a Labour member of parliament in 1974.
He left politics in 1986 to host Kilroy, an Oprah Winfrey-style mid-morning talk show that endeared him to housewives all over the country, as well as writing newspaper columns on the side.
It was one of those columns, which ran in the Daily Express in January 2004 under the headline "We Owe Arabs Nothing", that triggered an uproar and prompted the BBC to drop his show.
In it he described Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb amputators, women repressors" who had "murdered more than 3,000 civilians" in the September 11 attacks in 2001 in the United States and then "danced in the streets".
Within months he was back in the limelight, however, when he put himself forward as UKIP's top-of-the-list candidate in the EU vote for England's East Midlands - with former Dynasty star Joan Collins among his patrons.
Kilroy-Silk speaks at the launch
of Veritas party on Wednesday
With Kilroy-Silk on board, UKIP, which campaigned solely for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, took 12 seats at the Strasbourg assembly.
But he fell out quickly with the party, quitting the UKIP group in the EU parliament and then dumping the party altogether last month, after a failed leadership bid to replace UKIP leader Roger Knapman.
Leaders of UKIP, which are already facing defections to Veritas, have ridiculed it as "Vanitas" and written it off as a mere vehicle for the ego of the former chat show host, who keeps a villa in Spain as well as a luxurious home in Buckinghamshire that once belonged to rock star Ozzy Osbourne.
With his chiselled-jaw looks, perma-tan and pearly smile, Kilroy-Silk often gets a rock star's reception from fans during walkabouts in his constituency.
"I can't hide my tan, or my looks, and I'm not ashamed of either", he said defiantly at Veritas' launch on Wednesday in London.
But he promised that his party was made not of "patsies" and "yes men", but of "real people" who would listen to Britons disaffected by politics as usual.
"There's a magical
mood out there for change, for a new beginning in politics"
Veritas party founder
In addition to adopting UKIP's anti-EU stance, Kilroy-Silk said he would fight for stronger immigration and asylum controls, and ridiculed multiculturalism as "an ideology which insists that every culture has a value except their own".
With a full range of policies, including on defence, pensions and health care, Veritas will "lift the turnout" in Britain's next general election, expected in early May, Kilroy-Silk said.
"There's a magical mood out there for change, for a new beginning in politics," he added with a platinum grin.