Anti-Faragist forces on UKIP’s National Executive Committee are working to keep Steven Woolfe off the ballot, according to sources in the room. The NEC is dominated by supporters of Neil Hamilton and Douglas Carswell who want to stop the Farage candidate and install Lisa Duffy as leader. Woolfe is backed by Nigel and a string of his allies including Nathan Gill, Peter Whittle, Tim Aker, Arron Banks, William Dartmouth and David Coburn. Yesterday UKIP sources briefed out that Woolfe was ineligible to stand because (they claim) his membership had lapsed. Woolfe has an email from party chairman Steve Crowther appearing to dismiss this allegation as nonsense:
“The threshold for membership of the Party for this leadership election is two years, from 11 July 2014 – 11 July 2016. You have been a member of the European Parliament for UKIP throughout that period, regarded as a member in good standing. There is no apparent record on this file of your having been sent a standard membership subscription request during that time.”
Yet the anti-Woolfe faction of the NEC is still seeking to disqualify Woolfe in what seems a pretty unsubtle stitch up. A four-person panel is set to meet at 3pm on Sunday to ‘vet’ the candidates, and Woolfe allies are concerned about a weighted panel voting to kick him out of the contest. A coronation for Lisa Duffy is not going to go down well with members, they will want a fair fight…
UPDATE: Carswell gets in touch to stress he hasn’t got a dog in the fight.