David McNarry confirms he will resign as Ukip's Northern Ireland leader next month
David McNarry plans to stand down as regional leader of Ukip next month, it can be revealed.
The veteran politician expects to be replaced after a new national leader is chosen to replace Nigel Farage.
He confirmed his plans as Ukip NI's regional secretary Alan Lewis defected to the Ulster Unionist Party, claiming that Ukip locally has lost direction. Mr Lewis has not responded to Mr McNarry's claim that he had agreed not to issue a press statement.
Mr McNarry's departure could plunge the party locally into further uncertainty after a period of turbulence and the party's failure to take a seat in the Assembly election in May.
Nonethless Mr McNarry, who stood down from his Strangford seat in the run-up to the election, said it was time for him to go.
It was Mr Farage who persuaded the former Ulster Unionist to head a Northern Ireland branch of the party - but Mr McNarry has now decided the time has come to quit.
"I have really enjoyed some quality time with my grandchildren over this summer," the former Strangford MLA told the Belfast Telegraph.
"We do have a somewhat complicated position in the party in that the various regional leaders are appointed by the party leader.
"I was appointed by Nigel Farage and I am very proud of that. I have relished building up the party from practically nothing in the province to the present membership of around 400."
Hustings events are planned for Northern Ireland in the race to choose a successor to Mr Farage, who resigned within a few days of the referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU.
All candidates are expected to attend the event at the Maldron Hotel in Belfast on August 18.
"I think it points to the fact that Ukip is a genuine and committed national party that an event involving all the candidates is being held in Northern Ireland," Mr McNarry said.
He had viewed Stephen Woolfe as afront-runner to succeed Mr Farage but the party's ruling national executive excluded him after he was late in handing in his nomination papers.
Woolfe's supporters claim he was the victim of a coup.