Meeting to decide Ukip leader's fate offers party 'huge opportunity' to reform


Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has said a mass meeting of members called to decide the fate of his successor Henry Bolton will now determine whether the party has a future at all.

Next month's extraordinary general meeting was announced after Mr Bolton refused to accept a vote of no confidence in him by the party's national executive committee following controversy surrounding his ex-girlfriend Jo Marney.

Mr Farage said the meeting offers the party a "huge opportunity" to reform.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This extraordinary general meeting is not actually anymore about Henry Bolton, it's about 'can Ukip survive as a party?'.

"I am not saying that I support Henry Bolton. What I do support is him saying to the NEC I'm not going to take your judgment, I will move this on to a full extraordinary general meeting of the Ukip membership. And that gives us a huge opportunity.

"If there was an EGM tomorrow Henry Bolton would lose it very heavily indeed. But he has a month in which to make his case.

"If he is able in the space of a month to put together a new constitution, and a new management structure for the party that shows that the leader needs to be able to lead and not be held back by a failed organisation, he might just win the day."

The comments came as Mr Bolton also attacked Ukip's ruling body and warned the party could not afford another leadership contest.

A stream of senior Ukip officials have resigned from their posts in protest at Mr Bolton's refusal to step down after it emerged Ms Marney had sent highly offensive messages about Prince Harry's fiancee Meghan Markle.

Mr Bolton said he and Ms Marney could "potentially" get back together after they split up in the wake of the controversy.

He told the BBC: "The romantic side of the relationship is on hold. It won't go any further, if indeed that is a problem for the party.

"Who knows what the future contains? Most probably it will not come back together."

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, Mr Bolton denied that his private life was to blame in the crisis gripping the party.

He said: "It's the NEC that has failed to address internal disciplinary matters, it's failed to unite the party and it's full of people who have always backed different people in the party and added to the fractionalisation of the party."