UKIP, the glamour model and Meghan Markle: is the party over?
UKIP may be left looking for fifth leader in 18 months as Henry Bolton faces racism backlash
UK Independence Party leader Henry Bolton has dumped his girlfriend Jo Marney following the revelation that the glamour model made racist remarks about Meghan Markle.
But is the 54-year-old politician also in for the high jump? Several members are calling for Bolton to stand down and UKIP chiefs are due to meet on Sunday to decide Bolton’s fate, “if he can survive the week”, says Politico’s Jack Blanchard.
“It’s not obvious why [Bolton] should be held responsible for his girlfriend’s appalling views, but it looks like he’s caved to demands from MEPs that she goes or he does,” says HuffPost’s Paul Waugh. This latest drama highlights the party’s slide “from historic change-makers (that EU referendum would never have happened without them) to irrelevant pantomime repertory”, Waugh adds.
Questions have been raised about Bolton’s judgment in dating Marney, whose racist phone texts to a friend included comments that the “black American” Markle would “taint” the royal family. According to The Sun, Marney also claimed women refugees arriving in the UK would “f*** a mangy dog for about ten quid and a Big Mac”.
If Bolton jumps, UKIP will be left looking for its fifth leader since the EU referendum 18 months ago, raising questions about the party’s survival. There has been speculation of a possible return for UKIP’s most popular leader to date, Nigel Farage - an idea he dismisses. “No chance,” Farage said, according to the Daily Mail.
Bolton - fighting for his survival this morning - told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he had only dated Marney for a month, and that UKIP remains relevant. “It is very important for the national debate, I believe, that the pro-Brexit voice is heard in British politics,” Bolton said.