Stating ‘I have not left UKIP, UKIP has left me’, Welsh UKIP MEP Nathan Gill has left the party over its association with Tommy Robinson. His resignation means that UKIP has now lost 13 of the 24 MEPs it elected in 2014.
“I can no longer belong to a party that has switched its primary focus from Brexit, to a foolish pursuit against Islam and the promotion of Tommy Robinson (who is neither a Brexiteer, nor a member of UKIP.)
UKIP has betrayed Its members, Brexiteers and the British people.”
Read his full statement here…
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.”
Welsh Labour MPs stuck the knife into Plaid’s Leanne Wood last night after she relied on UKIP votes to challenge Carwyn Jones for First Minister. Chris Bryant led the attack, arguing Labour shouldn’t form a government if they relied on UKIP to win:
“I’d only be interested in forming a progressive government. If I’d to rely on Tories/UKIP to win, I’d say no thanks”
Owen Smith and Nia Griffiths piled in too. Which makes the news that UKIP Assembly Members Nathan Gill and Mark Reckless are considering backing Jones for FM very awkward indeed. Those two UKIP votes could keep Labour’s FM in his job and defeat the Plaid insurgency. Yet Labour MPs have publicly said they don’t want UKIP votes. Bryant has suddenly gone very uncharacteristically quiet…