Britain′s anti-EU UKIP party ousts latest leader Henry Bolton | News | DW | 17.02.2018
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Britain's anti-EU UKIP party ousts latest leader Henry Bolton

Members of the UK Independence Party have voted to sack their latest leader, Henry Bolton, after only five months in charge. The anti-EU, anti-immigration group appears to have lost its way since Brexit.

The anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) party removed leader Henry Bolton following criticism of his leadership and a scandal about racist comments made by his lover. At an extraordinary general meeting in the central English city of Birmingham, activists voted by 867 to 500 ballots to endorse a no-confidence vote.

Former UKIP leader Henry Bolton and girlfriend Jo Marney (Imago/i Images)

Bolton (right) has broken up with girlfriend, Jo Marney (left), since the racist comments were publicized

Bolton, 54, had a public falling-out with the party's national executive committee, which sought to remove him after he left his wife and began an affair with his 25-year-old lover, Jo Marney. 

Marney made racially offensive comments about Prince Harry's fiancee Meghan Markle in text messages sent to a friend and leaked to the Daily Mail newspaper last month.

Bolton has since ended the relationship with his girlfriend but the affair prompted a string of senior UKIP politicians to resign over his leadership.

Outgoing party chairman Paul Oakden said that 63 percent of 1,378 ballots cast had been to remove Bolton, who had been elected as the party's fourth leader in a year in September. "Henry Bolton has been removed by the democratic decision of the membership," Oakden told the audience.

A new leadership election must now be held within 90 days.

Bolton keen to stay in politics

Bolton was the third elected leader since the party's most-recognized politician, Nigel Farage, stepped down in 2016.

"I'm slightly disappointed... It's not a great feeling," Bolton, a former army officer, told British broadcaster Sky News, but he did not rule out running for the position of leader again. "You can't keep a good man down, I'm not finished in politics, it's just one of those bumps in the road."

Bolton had, however, earlier warned that the turmoil over his removal could now break the party, saying: "I think it's going to be very difficult for the party to survive."

Quo vadis, UKIP?

UKIP was originally founded in 1991 as the "Anti-Federalist League," a platform for euroskeptic voters. Under the former leadership of Farage, the party was heavily involved in bringing about the Brexit referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union in 2016, which resulted in the UK's decision to leave the bloc next year.

The party, however, has since been dogged by infighting, financial problems and falling public support. UKIP won just 2 percent of votes in last year's general election.

ss/jm (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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