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'It was like a Third World parliament': Farage fury after fracas leaves Ukip man in hospital

By May Bulman

Published 07/10/2016

Ukip leadership favourite Steven Woolfe on the floor following an altercation at a meeting of the party’s MEPs in the European Parliament building
Ukip leadership favourite Steven Woolfe on the floor following an altercation at a meeting of the party’s MEPs in the European Parliament building
Steven Woolfe
Mike Hookem, reported to be involved in the row

Nigel Farage has described an altercation that took place at a meeting of Ukip MEPs as like something from a "Third World parliament".

The former Ukip leader condemned the incident, which saw the favourite to become the party's new leader, Steven Woolfe, collapsing and requiring hospital treatment, as "not very seemly behaviour" and something that "shouldn't happen".

Ukip's Mike Hookem is alleged to be the other MEP involved in the incident, but he denies punching Mr Woolfe during the altercation.

Speaking just hours after the fracas, Mr Farage said: "We're talking about a dispute that finished up physically.

"It never looks good. It makes us look like - you see Third World parliaments where this sort of thing happens.

"It's not good. It shouldn't happen. It's two grown men, getting involved in an altercation. It's not very seemly behaviour."

When asked who he thought was responsible for the incident, Mr Farage declined to comment, saying: "I didn't actually see it myself. I have my suspicions.

"But I'm not today going to get involved in the blame game and name names. But we will, as a party, have an enquiry and come to a conclusion.

"We've got a colleague who was in a very bad place a few hours ago. For the moment, for his sake and his family's sake I want to say thank God he's getting better." The former Ukip leader confirmed that the party had launched an inquiry into the altercation, which took place in the European Parliament in France, but said that he did not believe any complaints would be made to the French police.

Mr Woolfe, who only 24 hours earlier had put his name forward to lead the party, is said to have suffered two seizures following the incident, prompting fears of a blood clot.

However, after a series of scans it was confirmed that there was no bleeding to the brain.

Images emerged shortly after the brawl, showing MEP Mr Woolfe collapsed on the floor in the middle of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg.

Ukip's former party director, Lisa Duffy, said it was a "very challenging time" for the party but vowed that it would continue to "fight with force" in political terms.

Ms Duffy told the BBC: "In my 12 years' experience within Ukip I have seen many heated discussions, but it never got to the point where punches have been exchanged, so this is deeply distressing today."

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