UKIP’s NEC has voted to expel Steven Woolfe’s campaign manager from the party, in what Woolfe’s allies claim is a plot to stop their man becoming leader. Nathan Gill, UKIP’s leader in Wales and a key ally of Nigel Farage, faces being kicked out unless he resigns as an MEP to free up a space for another candidate. Leaked emails show the NEC members who voted to expel Gill include Douglas Carswell, as well as Piers Wanchope and Marion Mason, two of the three members of the vetting panel which will decide whether Woolfe is allowed to stand. Friends of Woolfe fear this is a sign the vetting panel is weighted against him and claim there is a plot to block him from getting on the ballot.
Supporters of Lisa Duffy deny this and argue Woolfe should not qualify to stand because his membership lapsed. Sources close to Woolfe say he is considering taking legal action if he is kept off the ballot. One insider comments: “There are so many bloody factions in UKIP at the moment, it makes Syria look like a piece of cake…”
UPDATE: Sources stress this was an “informal vote”, whatever that means, and Gill allies say it will be fiercely contested.
UPDATE II: Farage launches a blistering attack on the NEC:
“The barrier to radical change and the modernisation of UKIP was implanted in the mid-1990’s. It is called the National Executive Committee. Many of its current crop are among the lowest grade of people I have ever met… People with no qualification in business or politics make the ultimate decisions of whom should be our candidate at a by-election. Or whether the former disgraced Tory MP Neil Hamilton should be given a route back to public life via being elected as an Assembly Member in Wales… The new Leader of UKIP should bypass the vanity of such people and make big decisions about UKIP’s future via direct polling of the membership.”