Nigel Farage Will Reveal On Friday If He Backs Henry Bolton To Stay As Ukip Leader

Owen Bennett
(PA Wire/PA Images)

Nigel Farage will reveal on Friday if he is backing current Ukip leader Henry Bolton to continue in the job ahead of a make-or-break meeting of party members.

Bolton is set to face activists in an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in Birmingham on Saturday, where he will ask them to overturn Ukip’s ruling committee’s decision to oust him as leader.

In the wake of his refusal to quit, a slew of Ukip spokespeople quit their positions in protest at his leadership and his continuing involvement with Jo Marney - an activist who sent racist messages about Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle to a friend.

In an attempt to seize back control of his career, Bolton has put forward a new party constitution, which would tear up the existing National Executive Committee and replace it with elected regional representatives if he is kept on as leader.

The changes would also see Bolton getting a salary as Ukip leader.

Farage, who still wields huge influence with Ukip members, will take the rest of the week to consider if the proposals do enough to reform the party which is currently languishing at between 2-5% in the polls.

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Farage said: “I’m reading it, and I’m seeing one or two little positives.

“I haven’t made my mind up, but I will on Friday.”

When asked if he would be attending the EGM on Saturday, Farage replied: “I’m not sure. If I’m there it will all about me, won’t it?”

Diane James stood down as Ukip leader after 18 days, claiming the NEC frustrated her attempts at party reform. (PA Archive/PA Images)

The proposals put forward by Bolton would see reform of the NEC – a body which Farage once described as being made up of “among the lowest grade of people I have ever met”

The draft constitution also proposes the leader should get paid by the party if they are not in an elected position, and members could be kicked out if the do anything which “is liable to undermine the cohesion and unity of the Party”.

Former leadership candidate Ben Walker, who is one of Bolton’s most vocal critics, acknowledged that some of the changes are “useful”.

He went on to play down any influence Farage could have on the outcome of Saturday’s meeting.

Walker said: “He does have a God-like status in the party, and he does have sway, but I don’t think his decision will change the outcome, those days are gone.”

“The five failed leaders have all been backed by Farage, and members can see that Nigel Farage isn’t always the best judge of character.”