Ukip candidates line up for leadership battle

Updated: 

The search for Ukip's next leader will take a big step forward as nominations for candidates to replace Paul Nuttall close today.

Among those vying to take the top job are deputy leader Peter Whittle, Scottish leader David Coburn, MEP Jane Collins, London Assembly member David Kurten, Sharia Watch director Ann Marie Waters, former Ukip councillor Ben Walker, former Kent police and crime commissioner candidate Henry Bolton and direct democracy activist John Rees-Evans, who came third in the last contest.

Former leader Nigel Farage has said he will not stand.

Previous leadership candidate Bill Etheridge withdrew on Wednesday with a warning that candidates like Ms Waters and Mr Whittle would take the party to a "dark place" because of their obsession with Islam.

Patrick O'Flynn, the party's former economics spokesman, stood down on Thursday saying all the potential candidates for the party's leadership disagree with him on its future policies on tax and spending.

Mr Nuttall stood down after Ukip failed to win any seats at the general election.

This triggered the third Ukip leadership race in a year, with former leader Diane James having quit in October just 18 days after taking the job.

She had won the contest to replace Mr Farage, who stepped down as Ukip leader after the EU referendum.

Local party websites suggest nominations close at 5pm on Friday, though the full list of candidates is not expected to be announced until several days afterwards.

Candidates for the leadership must be vetted by Ukip's National Executive Committee before securing a place on the ballot paper.

The new leader will be announced at Ukip's conference in Torquay on September 29.