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Arron Banks threatens to leave Ukip after being 'utterly disgusted' by party member's remarks following altercation

'If Neil Hamilton and Douglas Carswell remain in the party I will be leaving,' warns major donor

May Bulman
Friday 07 October 2016 08:00 BST
Video shows Woolfe unconscious after being 'punched by colleague'

Prominent Ukip donor Arron Banks has threatened to leave the party after being left “utterly disgusted” by comments made by a leading member following the altercation that left MEP Steven Woolfe hospitalised.

Mr Banks, who donated £1 million to Ukip in 2014, warned he would be “leaving” if Neil Hamilton, leader of Ukip Wales, remained in the party or if Mr Woolfe was not allowed to run for leader.

The multi-millionaire’s stark warning comes after Mr Hamilton, a former Tory MP and current member of Ukip's National Executive Committee, suggested in a live television interview that Steven Woolfe had “picked a fight and came off worst”.

Neil Hamilton: 'Steven Woolfe picked a fight and come off worst'

When asked on Sky News if he had any information relating to the altercation, Mr Hamilton replied: “I understand there was an argument between some MEPs and Steven, I think, picked a fight with one of them and came off worst.”

In response to the comments, made while Mr Woolfe was still in hospital, Mr Banks released a statement saying: "I was shocked at the events that unfolded today - it goes without saying that I wish Steven best wishes and hope he recovers soon.

“I am however utterly disgusted to see Neil Hamilton touring the newsrooms this afternoon, spewing his bile before anyone knew if Steven was going to be OK. He truly is a creature from the gutter who will do anything to get his mug on our screens.”

The insurance entrepreneur, who had backed Mr Woolfe as Ukip leader after the resignation of Diane James, went on to call for the “immediate suspension of the party's NEC (National Executive Committee)”, before stating: “If Neil Hamilton and Douglas Carswell remain in the party, and the NEC decide that Steven Woolfe cannot run for leader, I will be leaving Ukip.”

Mr Banks proceeded to deny that Ukip was “split down the middle between two camps”, but described a “small minority” of “Tory troublemakers and fifth columnists” who “use any opportunity they can do undermine those working tirelessly to hold the governments feet to the flames.”

The businessman concluded by claiming the party was at "breaking point", stating: “People have worked too long and too hard to get UKIP to where it is today, but it is clear that we ourselves, are at breaking point."

Mr Farage, who is standing in as Ukip's "interim leader" after Ms James stood down from the role, described the events that led to Mr Woolfe's injury as something "you see in Third World parliaments", adding that "it shouldn't happen".

It comes just a day after Mr Farage and Mr Banks made claims that the Conservative Party has shifted centre-ground politics to the right, following revelations Mr Woolfe had been tempted to defect the Tories under Theresa May.

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