Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali will address UKIP conference

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, will address the UKIP party conference as a keynote guest speaker this week.

Well-known in the church as a campaigner for traditionalist marriage, Bishop Michael will speak on the main stage of the party's conference in Torquay on Friday morning, shortly before the new leader is announced.

On the same day a 'senior member' of the AfD - the German far-right anti-immigrant and anti-Islam political group - will also address UKIP.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali was Bishop of Raiwind in West Punjab before he was granted refuge in England in 1986.

A UKIP party spokesman said the title of his address was 'Christianity and the Roots of our Civilisation' and he was invited 'because he has a lot to say about our national culture and can positively address issues that our members, and the wider population, are concerned about. Namely multiculturalism and citizenship, the Judaeo-Christian basis of our society, moral values and British values'.

Bishop Michael, who was the first Asian-born bishop in the Church of England, told Christian Today he would be speaking about 'Judaeo-Christian values as a basis for national life and how that can be a basis for an open society'.

Justifying his presence he said: 'I go to different party conferences. I have been at Labour's, I have been at the Conservatives many times.'

He said he did not want to endorse any party's policies but speaks 'as a church leader'.

He told Christian Today: 'It is no more an endorsement than if I went to Labour or the Conservative's conference.

'What I am going to say I could say anywhere.'

Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali controversially met President al-Assad in SyriaMichael Nazir-Ali

Born in Pakistan and an outspoken defender of persecuted Christians, Bishop Michael also holds strong views on the spread of Islam in the West but said he would not address those.

UKIP has become embroiled in a debate over whether it has become 'anti-Muslim' after Anne-Marie Walters, co-founder of anti-Islam group Pegida UK alongside former EDL leader Tommy Robinson, was allowed to run for leader.

Bishop Michael resigned from his role in the Church of England in 2009 saying he wanted to devote more time to working with Christians persecuted for their faith.

'Bishop Michael is hoping to work with a number of church leaders from areas where the church is under pressure, particularly in minority situations, who have asked him to assist them with education and training for their particular situation,' a spokesman said at the time.