Ukip MEP James Carver has resigned as the party's spokesman on foreign affairs in protest over a controversial general election pledge to ban Muslim women from wearing full-face veils in public.

The West Midlands MEP said he "strongly disagreed" with the "misguided policy" set out in the party's integration agenda, which also includes the forced medical examination of children deemed at risk from female genital mutilation (FGM).

Announcing his resignation on Tuesday (25 April), Carver said: "I would be one of the first to condemn a ban on wearing a crucifix as an infringement of liberty. No-one has the right to dictate what people should wear.

"When facial identification is necessary, such as at passport controls, or in a bank, then it is perfectly reasonable to order the removal of veils, as is the practice – but in a free and liberal society, people have a right to their religious beliefs, and to dress as they see fit.

"It is, therefore, with deep regret, that I have decided to resign as Ukip's Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs spokesman, as I feel this policy undermines my desire to represent all communities within the West Midlands, including the many British Muslims, who, I know, from first-hand experience, voted to leave the EU in last year's referendum.

"This week sees the 21st anniversary of my Ukip membership, the party that I have campaigned so hard for, and still believe in. I have consistently spoken of my desire for a truly global perspective for the United Kingdom, outside of the European Union, and I see this policy as being incompatible with that aim."

Ukip's "integration agenda", which will go to a policy committee chaired by deputy chairman Suzanne Evans, was formally announced on Monday.

The party wants to pass a law against the wearing of face coverings in public places, saying they are "a deliberate barrier to integration" and a "security risk".

Ukip also wants to implement annual school-based medical checks on girls from groups at high risk of suffering FGM, and for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to operate "under a presumption of prosecution" of any parent whose daughter has undergone FGM.

The party, under leader Paul Nuttall, is also calling for a moratorium on new Islamic faith schools until "substantial progress" has been demonstrated in "integrating Muslims into mainstream British society".

Ukip has since been condemned by the Muslim Council of Britain, with the organisation's secretary general, Harun Khan, accusing the party of "singling out Muslims in the most negative terms".

Ukip claimed to have consulted an "enormous" number of liberal Muslims about its integration policies, but failed when challenged by IBTimes UK to give an exact figure.

Ukip has been contacted by IBTimes UK for a comment on Carver's resignation.

james carver
James Carver has quit as |Ukip party spokesman over the burqa ban policy Getty