Two senior UKIP Croydon members have resigned over the party's close association with a controversial far-right figure.

Branch chairman Dan Heaton and campaigns manager Mike Swadling have jointly announced their departure from the party following leader Gerard Batten's decision to employ Tommy Robinson as a personal advisor.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, recently served time in prison for contempt of court, founded the English Defence League (EDL), a right wing nationalist group with a reputation for violence.

Batten's decision represents a break from UKIP's constitutional policy of not accepting the membership of individuals associated with other controversial nationalist parties.

In a joint statement Mr Heaton and Mr Swadling said: “UKIP has achieved great things in the last 25 years, culminating with the vote to regain our nation’s sovereignty by leaving the EU.

"At a time that the delivery of this is under threat and UKIP should be the natural home for all Brexiteers, the party has stepped away from serious electoral politics.

"UKIP by its constitution is a 'democratic, libertarian Party'. It had a proud stance of not accepting membership of former National Front, EDL and BNP members. The only major party to take this stance.

"The close association of Gerard Batten with Tommy Robinson has brought this to an end. That Tommy Robinson is in a position only in a personal capacity to Gerard Batten, and not a party position, is a distinction without merit.

"Gerard’s actions have now driven Bill Etheridge MEP to the Libertarian Party and Patrick O'Flynn to the SDP. These MEPs represent both wings of a respectable UKIP and like us neither feel they have a place in the current party.”

Mr Swadling is currently acting as manager for vote leave in Croydon, having ran the borough wide campaign in 2016. He also stood as UKIP's candidate for Croydon North in the 2017 general election.

UKIP declined to provide comment.