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Fresh Ukip turmoil as former leadership contender Steven Woolfe quits party

Published 17/10/2016

Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe ended up in hospital after the 'altercation'
Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe ended up in hospital after the 'altercation'

Ukip has been plunged into a fresh round of turmoil and bitter recriminations after former leadership contender Steven Woolfe quit the party in the wake of an altercation with a fellow MEP which left him in hospital.

Mr Woolfe abandoned his bid to become leader of the party, claiming it was "ungovernable" without Nigel Farage at the helm.

He stood by his claim that he had "received a blow" from Ukip MEP Mike Hookem during the fracas at a private meeting at the European Parliament building in Strasbourg and revealed he had made a police complaint about the incident.

Mr Hookem has denied hitting the North West MEP and the acrimonious fallout from the October 6 incident continued with claims that Mr Woolfe had received warnings about "inappropriate behaviour" from senior party figures.

Yorkshire and the Humber MEP Mr Hookem also claimed Mr Woolfe had signed in for 306 euro (£276) daily allowances at the European Parliament three times last week while recovering from his injuries.

Mr Woolfe, who said he would continue sitting as an independent, s aid: "The events at the meeting in Strasbourg led to me later being treated by doctors for two seizures, partial paralysis and loss of feeling in my face and body.

"I would like to thank all of the medical staff in Strasbourg for their impressive and swift treatment. I owe them my life. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their love and support - and also all of the people in politics who have sent me their best wishes.

"Since then, I have spent some time considering my personal and political future.

"It is with deep sorrow and regret that I am aborting my leadership campaign and announcing my resignation from Ukip with immediate effect."

The incident in Strasbourg erupted during a meeting of the party's MEPs which discussed reports that Mr Woolfe had been in talks about defecting to the Conservatives.

Mr Woolfe said: "With regards to the highly-regrettable events in Strasbourg, I will reiterate my position that I received a blow from Mr Hookem that knocked me back into the meeting room and caused my subsequent injuries. Contrary to reports, I have made a police complaint.

"I am now seeking legal advice in respect of the investigations and will not be commenting further on the matter until the completion of those investigations."

Mr Hookem shot back: "Steven Woolfe's political career was over once he showed disloyalty to the Ukip party and membership when he held talks to join the Tories.

"Steven has been warned about inappropriate behaviour by senior Ukip personnel for a year now.

"We wish him well and hope he can get his life sorted out."

He claimed Ukip was "united" in working for a full Brexit and on challenging Labour in northern England.

Mr Woolfe had been seen as frontrunner in the race to replace Diane James, whose term as Ukip leader lasted just 18 days.

In his resignation statement, Mr Woolfe painted a bleak picture of the state of the party, which is currently back under the control of Mr Farage as interim leader.

"I have come to the conclusion that Ukip is ungovernable without Nigel Farage leading it and the referendum cause to unite it.

"The way I was treated by members of my own party during the summer's leadership campaign and the events that have led up to today have all contributed to me coming to this conclusion.

"The party is riddled with infighting, proxy wars between rival camps and is run by an NEC (national executive committee) that is not fit for purpose."

The new Ukip leader will be announced on November 28, with no minations to replace Ms James closing on October 31.

Press Association

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