UKIP is in danger of becoming the "UK Nazi Party" if it picks the "wrong" leader to succeed Paul Nuttall as leader, one of the leadership contenders has warned.

Henry Bolton, a former Army officer, said the party could "easily slip towards the ideals of National Socialism" in the wake of this month's leadership contest.

Although he did not name her, his comments appeared to be aimed at Anne Marie Waters, the controversial Sharia Watch founder who has denounced Islam as "evil".

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It comes as it was revealed that the party's Scottish party chief has bought a chateau in Normandy.

David Coburn, who backed out of the leadership race earlier this year, made the purchase several years ago to act as a holiday home.

In a statement, Mr Bolton said that targeting one group within the UK population was reminiscent of the tactics adopted by both fascist and communist regimes in the 20th century.

"The last thing Ukip needs is to become the UK Nazi Party," Mr Bolton said.

"The clear majority of the members I know joined the party due to its fearlessness in tackling the real issue that mattered to the man on the street.

"However, under the wrong leadership, we could see a swing away from our traditional, secular values and stances, towards something far darker.

"Frankly, seeking to blame one section of our community for society's ills is not patriotism, it's a form of totalitarianism that goes against everything Ukip as a political force has ever achieved.

"Ukip was set up to fight the 'totalitarian' effects of EU influence on British society. Therefore, I will not sit back and watch the party be hijacked by those who seek to now seize on our success to drive forward their own agenda."

Ms Waters was one of 11 candidates cleared to stand in the leadership election last month by Ukip's national executive committee.

However, her inclusion on the ballot paper has prompted warnings that she could split the party, with 18 of the 20 Ukip MEPs reported to be ready to quit if she wins.

Speaking of his French house, David Coburn said: "I bought a wreck years ago. It's a holiday home I have been trying to fix up for years.

"It's not relevant to politics. One's private life is one's private life."