Six UKIP officials quit over Henry Bolton ‘fiasco’
Embattled party boss clings to power despite ‘no confidence’ vote and six resignations
UKIP deputy leader Margot Parker and five other party officials have resigned following a “no confidence” vote in leader Henry Bolton over racist remarks made by Bolton’s girlfriend.
John Bickley announced he was quitting as the party’s immigration spokesperson during an interview on LBC radio this morning, saying: “We need to make it clear to Mr Bolton that his time is up.”
Bickley continued: “It would really be in his interests in going to sort out his personal life and get away from politics. By a number of people resigning and saying they don't want to work with him, that helps make up his decision for him.”
Brexit spokesperson and MEP Gerard Batten has also resigned over what he described as the “Henry Bolton fiasco”, throwing UKIP’s future in doubt. Should Bolton step down, the party will have to find its fifth leader in 18 months.
Six UKIP officials had resigned by midday, The Guardian reports.
UKIP’s ruling national executive committee unanimously backed a vote of “no confidence” in Bolton on Sunday.
The 54-year-old former army officer has faced numerous calls to resign over his relationship with 25-year-old activist and model Jo Marney, who was suspended from the party for sending racist text messages about Prince Harry’s fiancee, Meghan Markle.
Despite the scandal, Bolton has defiantly refused to stand down, denouncing the attempt to oust him as a coup and insisting that the party could face extinction if forced into what would be its third leadership election in two years.
Speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday prior to the no confidence vote, Bolton claimed a leadership contest would be “financially almost unviable for the party”.
“If the NEC decides to go down the road of months of further infighting and further negative media scrutiny by deciding to pass a vote of no confidence in me, I think that the reality is that the party is probably over,” he said.
That assertion has been backed up for former leader Nigel Farage, who told listeners to his LBC radio show: “I do just wonder to myself, if UKIP finishes up having another leadership election, whether it can actually survive that.”
Both The Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday claim Farage is poised to launch a new political movement to take up the Brexit fight. Although such claims are not new, “with even Bolton admitting that his ousting could be the end of UKIP, this time he might just mean it”, says Politico.
As far as Bolton is concerned, “the committee does not have the power to remove him - that can only be done by a vote of the party’s membership”, says the BBC News website.
The no confidence vote has triggered an emergency general meeting to allow UKIP members the opportunity to endorse or reject the verdict.