Chester-based Euro MP Steven Woolfe may be the front-runner to succeed Nigel Farage as UKIP leader but he has missed the deadline for submitting his nomination.
Mr Woolfe, 48, who lives near the city centre with his wife Fiona and young daughter, blamed technical issues with the online UKIP system and is carrying on as though he is still in the race.
He submitted his application at 11.35am on Sunday (July 31) – before the noon deadline – but it ‘did not successfully go through until 12.17pm’, according to his spokesman.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (Monday, August 1): “I did feel like I was in a scene from Little Britain’s ‘computer says no’ but at 11.35 yesterday I managed to be on the phone with my bank to prove that the £5,000 had been transferred over.”
He had been speaking to a party official ‘at four minutes to 12, telling him ‘I’m pressing the button for submit’ ’ - and that he had taken photos of his screen to prove it.
Mr Woolfe said his team had tried to send over the nomination papers on Friday but experienced problems with the system then too and he had been busy with party matters all day Saturday. It showed UKIP needed to ‘professionalise’, he told Today.
Asked if he would pursue legal action if his application was rejected, he replied: “I hope it wouldn’t come to that.
“Hopefully they recognise that everybody in the country now sometimes looks at their computer screens and screams at it when something is not working but we have a system in place that didn’t seem to work properly that day.”
Mr Woolfe described as ‘false’, allegations that his party membership had temporarily lapsed in 2014, which could affect his eligibility to stand under party rules.
“On March 17 2011, I paid over £1,500 to the party. Part of that was to the patrons’ club and the remainder was to have a five-year membership that ran out in 2016 in March,” he said.
After launching his leadership bid, Mr Woolfe recently indicated to The Chronicle that he would be going after Labour voters with a platform of addressing issues around ‘social mobility’.
He told Today: “This morning on your show you had on the Joseph Rowntree Trust stating the effects of poverty and one of those key issues is the lack of social mobility in the country. We have seen it decline dramatically over the past 20 years and I said if I’m elected leader of UKIP I will be challenging that immediately, making it to the forefront and as important as we did the referendum.”
Other contenders to succeed Mr Farage are thought to include Huntingdonshire councillor Lisa Duffy and MEPs Jonathan Arnott and Bill Etheridge. The winner will be announced on September 15.