Monday

25th Jan 2021

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks

Street violence in Russia redoubled calls for new sanctions when foreign ministers meet on Monday, after eight EU states earlier proposed asset-freezes and visa-bans.

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

News in Brief

  1. Estonia to get first woman prime minister
  2. Turkey and Greece to hold Mediterranean security talks
  3. Dutch police detain 240 in anti-lockdown protests
  4. Renewables overtake fossil fuels in EU electricity mix
  5. France's top scientist warns of corona 'emergency'
  6. Growing appetite for Northern Ireland independence
  7. Surge in support for Portuguese far-right party
  8. German far-right party sues to avoid stigma

Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge

The EU's hotspot of Moria, a sprawling ghetto-like camp for migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, burned down last September. EU leaders declared such scenes would never be replicated. But its replacement faces similar problems.

Agenda

Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK

The director of the European Medicine Agency, Emer Cooke will be quizzed by MEPs in the parliament on vaccine authorisation on Tuesday. EMA is expected to give the green light to the third vaccine at the end of the week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  2. Why Russia politics threaten European security
  3. MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'
  4. Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge
  5. Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity
  6. Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK
  7. Will EU ever take action to stop Israeli settlements?
  8. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us