Ukip's Mike Hookem speaks, says Steven Woolfe told him to step outside and 'settle this mano il mano'

The Ukip MEP said the altercation between the two men was 'embarrassing, handbags at dawn, girl on girl, and lasted barely seconds'

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Ukip's Mike Hookem said he and hospitalised Ukip leadership candidate Steven Woolfe "hugged like tarts" during their altercation in which, he insisted "no punches were thrown".

Mr Hookem told Sky News that following an argument in a meeting of Ukip’s MEPs at the parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Woolfe told him they should go outside and discuss it "mano el mano".

Mr Hookem, an army veteran of nine years' service, said it had been no more than  "a scuffle" and described as "outrageous" the suggestion made by Mr Woolfe that he "came at me and landed a blow".

Mr Hookem said there had been an argument over who was to blame for Mr Woolfe’s papers arriving too late to stand in the previous Ukip election that concluded three weeks ago.

“If you want the truth, I’ll tell you the truth. Mr Woolfe explained to the meeting his part in the last leadership election, where he stated that his paperwork had gone in but it hadn’t been accepted,” Mr Hookem told Sky News.

“I said, ‘No Steven, you had twenty days to get this in. The reason it never went in was your fault.

“Whereas Mr Woolfe then stood up, in front of the meeting, in front of witnesses, ‘Right, if it’s going to be this tone of the meeting, let’s me and you take this outside, mano il mano. And that was his words, ‘mano il mano.’

“He made for a small ante room taking his jacket off. I entered that room and he approached me. He came at me.

“There was no punches thrown. There was no blows thrown. There was no slapped faces. There was no pushing. There was a tussle between and elderly grandfather and a forty year old MEP. Quite silly, quite embarrassing, handbags at dawn, girl-on-girl. It lasted seconds.”

A third Ukip MEP, Jonathan Arnott, said the embarrassing incident meant that Steven Woolfe should step down from the leadership contest.

This really portrays Ukip in an appalling light. Our hardworking members who put leaflets through doors expect better from their MEPs. I think it is absolutely disgusting this incident happened,” he told the BBC.

“‘It must surely be obvious to anybody having seen this that Steven Woolfe cannot now consider standing in a leadership contest.”

Mr Hookem said he had replied to an email from Mr Woolfe and had offered the 'hand of friendship' and they have agreed to meet.

Mr Woolfe is expected to stay in hospital for at least another 48 hours.