UKIP leadership contender Steven Woolfe has quit the party Monday evening following a physical confrontation with a fellow MEP which left him hospitalised.
Mr. Woolfe announced his resignation and intention to continue sitting in the European Parliament as an independent on Monday evening in a letter that heaped praised UKIP interim leader Nigel Farage, but scathed the bitter infighting and factionalism that has gripped the party since he announced his intention to leave the party leadership.
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Reproduced in the Spectator, the letter thanked the medical staff who attended to him after his altercation with fellow MEP Mike Hookem, against whom Woolfe confirmed he has made a formal police complaint.
Writing of the present state of his former party. Mr. Woolfe stated:
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. I believe that a strong Ukip would hold this government’s feet to the fire and make sure it delivers a clean Brexit. However, 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 that is not fit for purpose. Once my recovery is complete, it is my intention to sit as an independent MEP in the European Parliament.
Of the altercation in Strasbourg which saw Mr. Woolfe hospitalised, he 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.
This morning the party’s former deputy leader Paul Nuttall slammed the “madness” in Strasbourg, claiming in a Telegraph column that “people think of the terms ‘Ukip’ and ‘shambles’ as synonymous”.
He was more positive about the future, however, adding:
“In the longer-term, though, the shenanigans in the European Parliament may have served a purpose, as I think the vast majority of people in Ukip are finally beginning to wake up and accept that we are in an existential crisis.”