A Ukip leadership hopeful has controversially called for a "total ban" on Muslim faith schools across Britain. Lisa Duffy, a Cambridgeshire councillor and chief-of-staff to Ukip MEP Patrick O'Flynn, reportedly said the policy was part of a "positive" plan to "modernise British Islam".

"I will be calling for the Government to close British Islamic faith schools," the mother of six told The Daily Express. "That doesn't mean I am picking on British Islam, but if you think about what our security services are looking at, 2,000 individuals that have come from those faith schools."

It is unclear where Duffy has got the "2,000" figure from and the vast majority of faith schools in England are Christian, with just 47 Jewish, 23 Muslim, 10 Sikh and four Hindu schools at the start of September 2014, according to the House of Commons Library.

Duffy, who was recently interviewed by IBTimes UK, had not responded to a request for comment.

West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge, one of Duffy's rivals in the Ukip leadership contest, has backed a ban of the burqa in public. Etheridge, who also serves as a Dudley councillor, reportedly claimed the Islamic veil for women was a security concern.

"I don't mind what people do for their cultural values or for their religious values. That's one of the great freedoms of our country," the Wolverhampton Express and Star newspaper reported him saying.

"We are in a severe security situation, and if you are in a public place that is security sensitive, I'm afraid you have got to show your face. That means any face covering."

The garment is banned in France as part of a law which bans the concealment of the face in public spaces. Masks, helmets, balaclavas are also outlawed in public spaces under the legislation.

Conservative MPs Philip Hollobone, Peter Bone and Christopher Chope called for a public ban of the burqa in 2013, while Labour grandee Jack Straw, then leader of the House of Commons, faced controversy in 2006 when he branded veils as a "visible statement of separation and of difference".

Meanwhile, Ukip faces more in-fighting after Ukip migration spokesman and MEP Steven Woolfe was blocked from running in the leadership race. Woolfe was kicked out of the contest for submitting his application form late due to "technical problem".

A spokesperson for the party said: "By a clear majority of NEC members Steven Woolfe MEP's application was considered to be ineligible as a result of a late submission and as such he did not meet the eligibility criteria. His membership of the Party was not in question."

Ukip leadership candidates