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Douglas Carswell and Diane James in public show of unity at Ukip conference

Published 17/09/2016

Douglas Carswell will speak at the Ukip conference - but only for five minutes
Douglas Carswell will speak at the Ukip conference - but only for five minutes

Ukip's new leader and the party's only MP put on a public show of unity as they took to the stage in the finals hours of a conference dominated by bitter infighting.

Diane James and Douglas Carswell shook hands and smiled for the cameras as they posed for pictures ahead of his speech to activists.

Ms James said it was her "absolute pleasure" to welcome the Clacton MP on to the platform in Bournemouth and praised his "courageous" decision to defect from the Conservatives.

"I'm not interested in what has gone on beforehand," she told party members.

Mr Carswell said he supported Ms James 110% and described her victory speech as "wonderful".

"The membership has spoken and it has made a clear choice," he said. "We must now all rally behind Diane."

Earlier, the MP insisted he would not quit the party after outgoing leader Nigel Farage accused him of doing "all that he can to split the party" and suggesting he needed to "make a big decision" about his future.

Mr Farage used his new LBC show to accuse Mr Carswell of "sniping from the sidelines" and said his actions had given the "impression of division".

The MEP admitted the party has been "breaking down" behind the scenes but said he had been "biting my tongue" since the general election because he wanted to focus on winning the European Union referendum.

The Clacton MP "really isn't doing anything for us" and must now decide if he supports the party's aims, Mr Farage said.

"Is he going to go on sniping from the sidelines?", he said.

"It's no good for Ukip, and I don't think looking at him, and he doesn't look very happy, I can't believe it's very good for him either."

The animosity between Mr Farage and Mr Carswell, who defected to Ukip from the Conservatives, has been an open wound in the party for years.

Mr Carswell, the first member of Ukip to be directly elected to Parliament, was given just a five-minute speaking slot on the final day of the party's conference.

He is one of a number of high-profile figures in Ukip who have been frozen out by the Farage wing of the party.

Within an hour of her leadership victory, Ms James took the decision to wipe Neil Hamilton from the conference agenda.

The leader of Ukip's Welsh Assembly group, who Mr Farage has been fiercely critical of, was replaced by a 10-minute coffee break and a five-minute speech by Nathan Gill, the man he ousted.

Mr Hamilton, who only found out about the so-called purge after being told by reporters, said it was a "rather bizarre way" to unite a party.

Mr Farage said "some quite big surgery" was needed to get Ukip back into shape.

Volunteers on the party's ruling National Executive Committee had decided that Mr Hamilton was "great fun, therefore would be a great candidate", Mr Farage said, adding that he had no power to stop it.

"Ukip does have to make some fundamental changes, some quite big surgery is needed."

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