Party chief tells Kilroy-Silk to toe the line

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The leader of the UK Independence Party has warned the outspoken MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk to "toe the party line" or face disciplinary action.

The leader of the UK Independence Party has warned the outspoken MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk to "toe the party line" or face disciplinary action.

Roger Knapman said that the party could not "forever tolerate" off-message members. He urged the former television presenter - whose outspoken comments are believed to have driven away its key donor, Paul Sykes - to become more of a "team player" or face disciplinary action.

His comments followed Mr Kilroy-Silk's claims at the party's weekend conference that Mr Knapman had agreed to let him take over as leader of UKIP. Mr Knapman maintained yesterday that there had "never, never ever" existed any such deal.

"It is one thing to be ambitious. He must start to think about being a team player," he told BBC Radio 4. "I think Robert is beginning to understand that politics is a bit more serious a business than he might have been engaged in for a while."

He added: "But he must understand that we can't forever tolerate people who cannot toe the party line. We have disciplinary procedures - it is not a question of that as yet.

"He wants to be party leader apparently. I think he will soon grasp the understanding that there is no question of that happening, but if he waits for two years and has a good record in the eyes of the party membership as a loyal member of the team, then he stands a chance of being made leader." Mr Kilroy-Silk also declared that he wanted to "kill off" the Conservatives, casting doubt over the party's strategy of not standing against incumbent MPs with Eurosceptic credentials.

But Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP group of MEPs, said: "In my opinion we should not be fighting against sitting Tory and Labour MPs who are prepared to say the right things."

Yesterday Mr Kilroy-Silk said: "We can't have the party policy decided by the man with the biggest chequebook."

Alan Bown, a businessman who has already given UKIP £500,000, said he would step in to replace Mr Sykes's financial support.

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