MEP Mike Hookem has announced his resignation from the post of UKIP’s Deputy Leader, and has thrown his weight into a battle to replace Gerard Batten.
Gerard, AKA ‘Bulldog Batten’, was elected to the top job unopposed in April 2018 after a long stint of half-hearted lady Jane Grey-style leaders, and promised to resign after 12 months to allow a full raft of candidates to run.
In a letter to party officials, Hookem said that the leader had “squandered our natural advantage”.
“I believe UKIP always has been and always should be a libertarian party that encourages and promotes common-sense policies with a broad electoral appeal,” he wrote.
“However, under Mr Batten’s leadership, and despite my appeals, UKIP has been derailed from this objective.
“Mr Batten’s policy direction and associations have given the mainstream media the ammunition to label our party ‘extreme’ and ‘far-right’, accusations I do not believe to be true.”
But Batten said that he had saved the party “from oblivion”, and that Tommy Robinson, whom some had opposed, was “a good person to have onside”.
Mr Hookem, who’s MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said he had been “desperate to act to stop the increasing isolation and marginalisation of our party in recent months.
“However unlike some who found alternative parties, I stayed loyal to the membership and delayed my resignation to minimise any potential electoral impact.”
A leadership election will be announced shortly, perhaps even coinciding with the Tory race to replace Theresa May.