Saturday

25th Mar 2017

Ukip fights for its life

  • Britain's vote to leave the UK has deprived Ukip of a raison d'etre.

The UK Independence Party has launched an inquiry after one of its MEPs collapsed in the European Parliament on Thursday (6 October), the party’s chairman Paul Oakden told BBC.

Steven Woolfe, a front-runner for UKip's leadership position, spent the night in hospital after sustaining a head injury arguing with fellow MEP Mike Hookem.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Woolfe later issued a statement from his bedside, saying he was feeling fine.

Arron Banks, a eurosceptic businessman and Ukip’s main bankroller, also reacted to the news of the brawl, threatening to pull support for the party, which he called at "breaking point”.

He said he would leave Ukip if Woolfe was prevented from standing in the leadership race.

Both Banks and Woolfe are allies of Nigel Farage, the party’s long-time leader and founding member, who stepped down this summer.

The only other contender, at least for the moment, is Raheem Kassad, editor in chief at right-wing news website Breitbart UK.

It is likely, however, that Suzanne Evans will also join the race. Evans is highly regarded by some for writing the party’s 2015 manifesto.

The position was made vacant on Wednesday (5 October), when Diane James threw in the towel, after only 18 days on the job.

With Brexit now underway, the leadership race comes amid soul searching for a party whose primary role was to leave the EU.

Theresa May’s political manoeuvring has also deprived it of the rest of its programme, such as selective education (as opposed to open admission) and immigration control.

Ukip’s membership has plummeted and many of its local seats in southern UK could be lost to the Tories in next year’s elections.

The leadership contest will likely add fuel to the fire.

Nigel Farage has stepped in as the interim leader, continuing to dominate the party. He is well regarded by most UKip MEPs for his efforts in taking the UK out of the EU.

But he has fallen out with Ukip’s only House of Commons MP, Douglas Carswell, Suzanne Evans, and the Ukip national executive committee.

The schism is now so wide that former Ukip spin doctor and Farage aide Alexandra Philips said ”only a failed Brexit” could salvage party unity.

The two fractions are bitterly divided over the direction in which Ukip should go, with Evans' camp opposing a succession of Farage’s divisive, dogmatic and testosterone-fuelled line.

Meanwhile, the Farage bloc accuses critics of planning a coup.

Philipps, writing in the Guardian, pointed to to a toxic culture of divisive rivalry and "cloak-and-dagger" infighting.

"There are so many fractions in Ukip that it became a venn diagram, where the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Philipps said. Last month, she tore up her Ukip party card and joined the Tories.

UKIP MEP feeling well after punch and collapse

Steven Woolfe, a Ukip MEP, was rushed to hospital after collapsing in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday, reportedly after a fight with a group colleague.

MEPs to investigate Ukip brawl

The European Parliament's ethics committee will try to establish what happened between Mike Hookem and Steven Woolfe, who will remain in the hospital until Sunday.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The Union under threat

The effect of Brexit will be much more profound on Northern Ireland than on Scotland. Some kind of border controls with Ireland seem inevitable.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  2. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  3. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  5. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  7. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  9. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  10. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  11. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change