Ukip sacks Henry Bolton as leader in wake of racism row to spark fourth leadership contest in 18 months

Mr Bolton lost no confidence motion by 867 to 500 votes at extraordinary meeting of Ukip members

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Saturday 17 February 2018 17:42 GMT
The 54-year-old said he was "not finished in politics yet"
The 54-year-old said he was "not finished in politics yet"

Henry Bolton has been ejected as the leader of Ukip at an emergency conference, throwing the future of the party into further uncertainty.

The decision at the crisis meeting of around 1,500 Ukip members gathered in Birmingham came after the party’s ruling body – the National Executive Body (NEC) - voted no confidence in the 54-year-old leader last month.

After Mr Bolton refused to step down, he was forced to make his case to the membership on Saturday, but he lost the no confidence motion by 867 to 500 votes.

Following the announcement of the result Mr Bolton said he was "disappointed", but added: "I have not finished in politics yet."

The party now faces a fourth leadership contest in 18 months while Ukip MEP Gerard Batten will act as interim leader.

Mr Bolton, a former soldier, who was not paid for his role as Ukip leader, won the position at the helm of the party last September on a platform to professionalise the party and bring together warring factions in Ukip.

Mr Bolton’s leadership has been in the spotlight due to his relationship with Jo Marney, who sent racist messages about Prince Harry’s fiancé Meghan Markle.

And on Friday Mr Bolton criticised the media scrutiny into his private life following the breakdown of his marriage to Tatiana Smurova and his new relationship with Ms Marney.

Mr Bolton's tenure came into question because of his relationship with Ms Marney (Twitter)

Describing the media interest, he told Sky News: “There’s probably been nothing like that since the Profumo affair or Diana and Dodi (Fayed).”

Questions will inevitably be raised as to whether the party - hit by bitter in-fighting, resignations and financial uncertainty in recent months – has a future beyond Mr Bolton’s leadership.

Earlier this week Nigel Farage, the party’s former and most prominent leader in recent years, admitted that Ukip is “collapsing”, as the party was left facing a ruinous six-figure bill over a last legal battle with three Labour MPs.

“Make no mistake,” he said. “Ukip is collapsing. There is no point in pretending it is not.”

He continued: “The basis structures of the party organisation are disappearing; branches are closing and many of the sitting councillors in the forthcoming elections wish to run as independents.

“After more than 20 years of touring the country, addressing 1,500 public meetings at which I pushed the Ukip message and built up the party, I look on the latest twist in its 25-year history with a mixture of dismay and disbelief.”

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