Chester-based North West Euro MP Steven Woolfe has not only abandoned his bid to become UKIP leader but has left the party following the recent altercation that led to a hospital stay.
Mr Woolfe announced his candidacy in the UKIP leadership election on October 5 but the very next day a scuffle broke out with fellow UKIP MEP Mike Hookem at the European Parliament building in Strasbourg.
Exactly what happened between the two men is unclear but two hours later Mr Woolfe collapsed after experiencing seizures leading to three nights in a French hospital.
Mr Woolfe, who has an office in Northgate Street, has now aborted his leadership bid, left UKIP saying the party is ‘riddled with infighting’ and has made an official complaint to police.
In a statement, the North West Euro MP, who recently moved to Winchester having lived with his wife Fiona and young daughter in Victoria Road, Chester, said: “The events at the meeting in Strasbourg led to me later being treated by doctors for two seizures, partial paralysis and loss of feeling in my face and body.
“I would like to thank all of the medical staff in Strasbourg for their impressive and swift treatment. I owe them my life. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their love and support – and also all of the people in politics who have sent me their best wishes.”
Mr Woolfe continued: “Since then, I have spent some time considering my personal and political future. It is with deep sorrow and regret that I am aborting my leadership campaign and announcing my resignation from UKIP with immediate effect.
“I believe that a strong UKIP would hold this government’s feet to the fire and make sure it delivers a clean Brexit. However, I have come to the conclusion that UKIP is ungovernable without Nigel Farage leading it and the referendum cause to unite it.”
Mr Woolfe had stood in the first leadership contest in July after Mr Farage stepped down but was ruled out after failing to submit his nomination papers on time. The party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) was unsympathetic to his plea that he was a victim of computer problems.
The eventual victor, Diane James, quit after just 18 days presenting him with a second opportunity to go for the top job. Woolfe had been touted as the favourite and was backed by Farage and party donor Arron Banks but it wasn’t to be.
Mr Woolfe added: “The way I was treated by members of my own party during the summer’s leadership campaign and the events that have led up to today have all contributed to me coming to this conclusion. The party is riddled with infighting, proxy wars between rival camps and is run by an NEC that is not fit for purpose.
“Once my recovery is complete, it is my intention to sit as an independent MEP in the European Parliament.
“I will continue to represent my constituents in the European Parliament until the UK’s exit from the EU in 2019. I will champion the values I hold dear – those of freedom, democracy and an independent United Kingdom.”
Mr Woolfe has consistently blamed Mr Hookem for his injuries but his colleague, the MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, adamantly denies carrying out an assault.
“Contrary to reports, I have made a police complaint,” said Mr Woolfe. “I am now seeking legal advice in respect of the investigations and will not be commenting further on the matter until the completion of those investigations.”