Steven Woolfe, a clear favorite to win the UKIP leadership in the last race before his candidacy was thrown out on a technicality and again now a contender for the new race was last week considering defecting to the Conservative party, according to reports.
Mr. Woolfe is said to have met with a number of top Conservatives over the weekend to discuss his possible defection to Theresa May’s Conservatives before the surprise resignation of leader-elect Diane James on Tuesday evening.
The departure of Mrs. James before she had even completed the acceptance procedure of becoming the official leader of UKIP means the party has again reverted to Nigel Farage. Mr Farage has made clear he has no intention of leading the party again, and the hunt is on again to find a leader.
Northern MEP Steven Woolfe was the first candidate to declare he was running, but just hours later London political gossip blog Guido Fawkes reported on Woolfe’s flirtation with the Conservatives. Leading Tory Eurosceptic David Davis is said to have been a kay figure in bringing Woolfe onboard.
Mr. Woolfe said in a statement:
“I have been enthused by the start to Theresa May’s premiership. Her support of new grammar schools, her words on social mobility and the growing evidence that she is committed to a clean Brexit prompted me, as it did many of my friends and colleagues, to wonder whether our future was within her new Conservative Party.”
Speaking to Sky News earlier today, Mr. Woolfe said he had been persuaded to stand for the leadership of his party by “the number of emails and telephone calls for members [who] have asked me to stand again”.
He said he wanted to act for the 17 million people who voted for Brexit “and say that there is a party out there who is going to consider the issues of social mobility.
“We’re going to challenge in the northern areas where I was born and brought up and say ‘there is a party that’s been listening to you for a long time and we’re now going to make sure that the policies work for you too.”