Henry Bolton refuses to resign as Ukip leader despite wave of senior figures quitting party in protest

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

Under-fire Henry Bolton today refused to quit his Ukip post despite a wave of senior figure resignations protesting his leadership.

The beleaguered leader faced a vote of no confidence in his position amid mounting calls to resign, after it was revealed his former girlfriend had made highly offensive comments about Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle and black people.

Bookmakers today even slashed their odds of Ukip folding within months as the party faced fresh crisis.

However, Mr Bolton gave a statement in Folkestone on Monday afternoon where he declared: ‘I shall not be resigning as party leader.’

John Bickley (l) and Margot Parker (r) have resigned in protest at Henry Bolton (m) refusing to stand down as Ukip leader (Rex)
Ukip deputy leader Margot Parker is believed to have quit over Mr Bolton’s refusal to step down (Rex)

Deputy leader Margot Parker, immigration spokesman John Bickley, Local Government spokesman Tim Aker, London spokesman Peter Whittle, Education spokesman David Kurten, Culture spokesman David Meacock and Trade and Industry spokesman William Dartmouth all quit their posts.

Brexit spokesman Gerard Batten and assistant deputy leader Mike Hookem have also both resigned, with Mr Hookem urging Mr Bolton to follow suit as “the leader’s private life is of more interest than the party”.

Ms Parker said Ukip leader Mr Bolton should go “sooner rather than later” as he was leaving the party “in a limbo situation”.

Announcing his decision to resign this morning, Mr Bickley told LBC: “I believe he really needs to go and focus on sorting out his personal life and get away from politics.

Henry Bolton gives a statement outside the Grand Hotel in Folkestone, where he refused to step down as leader. (PA)
Immigration spokesman John Bickley has also resigned from his role (Rex)
Peter Whittle resigned from his position as London spokesman (Rex)
David Kurten decided to quit as Education spokesman (Rex)
Ukip leadership since the EU referendum (PA)

“If, by a number of people resigning and showing that they no longer wish to work for him, that helps him make that decision, then fine.”

Sunday’s vote on no confidence in Mr Bolton came a week after it emerged his girlfriend had sent racist messages about Meghan Markle.

Mr Bolton has faced a stream of calls to resign since the highly offensive messages sent by Jo Marney, 25, were published by the Mail on Sunday.

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Ms Parker told BBC Radio Northampton that Mr Bolton’s personal life “took over the job he was elected to do” and urged him to stand aside.

She said: “It would be quicker and cleaner if he came to the conclusion he could go sooner rather than later.

“This is taking time away from doing the job. This puts the party in a limbo situation.”

William Dartmouth resigned as Trade and Industry spokesman (Rex)
Ukip’s assistant deputy leader Mike Hookem reigned over the vote (Rex)
Local Government spokesman Tim Aker stepped down from his post (Rex)
Gerard Batten resigned as Mr Bolton’s Brexit spokesman (Rex)

The East Midlands MEP will continue her role in the European Parliament, the BBC said.

Party members will now decide Mr Bolton’s fate in a vote at an emergency meeting in February.

Mr Bolton said any contest to replace him “would be financially almost unviable for the party” and was defiant in his decision not to step down.

He told ITV’s Peston On Sunday: “I don’t believe I have done anything wrong.

Mr Boton ended his relationship with Jo Marney after it emerged she had sent racist texts about Meghan Markle (Rex)
Mr Bolton insisted he would not quit (Rex)
Former leader Nigel Farage has ruled out a return to the role (Rex)

“My own personal life, it’s a little bit of a mess at the moment. I need to sort that out, of course.”

Ukip chairman Paul Oakden suggested that former leader Nigel Farage could play a greater role in Ukip again in the wake of the latest rumblings within the party.

Mr Oakden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think everybody would like him to have a greater role in Ukip. Whether that’s as leader or not, I don’t know if I would subject Nigel to that.”

However, Mr Farage’s spokesman said: “There is no chance. He wouldn’t consider it for a second.”