In a fresh blow to the UK Independence Party, its former leader of 18 days, Diane James MEP has announced she is leaving the organisation and will sit as an independent in the European Parliament.
Ms. James follows closely on the heels of Steven Woolfe MEP who was forced out of the party following an alleged altercation with another UKIP MEP Mike Hookem in the Strasbourg Parliament. Both MEPs had previously been considered the way forward for the “Faragist” faction in the party — those loyal to the interim leader Nigel Farage.
The announcement comes just days before the party is due to reveal its newest leader, suspected to be Paul Nuttall.
A statement from Ms. James says:
Statement from Diane James on becoming an Independent Member of the European Parliament. pic.twitter.com/VavCHx28AM
— Diane James MEP (@DianeJamesMEP) November 21, 2016
The current leadership race has been dogged by allegations that the party is treating the election as a coronation for Mr. Nuttall rather than an open, honest contest.
Speaking upon his departure from the race, Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam called the integrity of the ballot into question, citing evidence that the party did not intend to use a professional electoral service to post ballots to members.
The call was echoed by current candidate John Rees-Evans, who Mr. Nuttall and Suzanne Evans, another candidate, have refused to debate in public.
And over the past few days, it has been confirmed to Breitbart London that some members are receiving duplicate ballot papers, while others have not received any at all.
Commenting on the matter, Mr. Kassam said: “This whole race is looking more and more like a sham at this point. There is no integrity to it. And the next leader, whomever they may be, looks to have an illegitimate mandate.”
UKIP’s press office confirmed to Breitbart London this morning that Electoral Reform Services, which posted out the ballots at the last internal election, were not used this time. Instead, the party had its own staff in Newton Abbott perform the posting out of the ballots.
ERS is expected to preside over the counting of the ballots, but as of Monday afternoon, many UKIP members have still not received their voting papers.