Henry Bolton refuses to resign as UKIP leader after more than half his top team quits

Henry Bolton.

Henry Bolton.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images

  • UKIP leader Henry Bolton refuses to quit despite over half of his top team resigning.
  • “I repeat, I shall not be resigning as Party leader,” he said in a statement.
  • He is under pressure to quit over his romance with model Jo Marney, who sent racist text messages about Meghan Markle.
  • Bolton’s fate will be decided by UKIP members in a vote next month.
  • He adds that he is going to “remove” people from UKIP who have been involved in in-fighting. “It is time to ‘Drain the Swamp,'” Bolton said.

LONDON – Henry Bolton has refused to stand down as leader of UKIP despite more than half of his top team quitting their roles in protest at his leadership.

Bolton announced on Monday afternoon that he intends to stay on as leader of the pro-Brexit party and allow its membership to determine his fate in a vote next month.

Speaking outside a hotel in Kent, Bolton said: “Yesterday the UKIP National Executive Committee (NEC) decided to initiate and embark upon a constitutional course to remove me as leader of the Party.

“I advised the NEC during our meeting not to expose the Party to the financial and political cost of pursuing that course of action, including the political cost of possibly yet another leadership contest.

“I urged the NEC instead to focus on the unity and cohesion of the Party and on the need to concentrate on such matters as the local government election campaign and the necessity of mobilising our efforts to ensure the government delivers true independence in all areas of government and administration when we leave the European Union.

“I respect the next steps in the constitutional process and will therefore not be resigning as Party leader. I repeat I shall not be resigning as Party leader.”

Bolton, who was elected UKIP leader in September, has been under pressure to quit after The Mail on Sunday revealed that his ex-girlfriend, Jo Marney, sent racist text messages about Prince Harry’s fiancé, Meghan Markle.

Marney said Markle would “taint” the Royal Family and had a “tiny brain.” She also described Markle as a “negro” and said black people are ugly.

Bolton distanced himself from Marney’s comments and claimed to have ended their relationship.

But the pair were spotted dining together in central London just days later, and Bolton has refused to rule out getting back together with the 25-year-old.

12 out of 23 UKIP spokespeople had resigned at the time of writing, including deputy leader Margot Parker, the party’s London spokesman Peter Whittle, and Brexit spokesman Gerard Batten.

The latest resignations follow a meeting of the party’s NEC over the weekend in which its members unanimously backed a vote of no confidence in Bolton.

UKIP chairman Paul Oakden tried to convince Bolton to resign at a meeting of the party’s top officials over the weekend but was unsuccessful, Politics Home reported.

UKIP in crisis

Bolton’s refusal to quit means UKIP members will meet in around a month’s time to vote on whether to ratify the NEC’s no-confidence motion against Bolton.

In his statement, Bolton revealed that he not only planned to stay on as leader, but wants to deliver wholesale reform of the party’s ruling NEC.

“The NEC requires significant and urgent reform,” he said.

“To that end, again during the coming weeks, I shall be proposing a new Party constitution, with a newly constituted and reformed NEC. Likewise, it is now time to put an end to the factional in-fighting within the Party and to remove those who have been a part of that.

“In a single Phrase, it is time to ‘Drain the Swamp’.” [sic]

The party will be in search of its seventh leader within two years if members vote to remove Bolton from the post.

UKIP is also struggling financially. Bolton claimed over the weekend the party would struggle to afford the costs of holding another leadership contest and revealed it has been losing around 1,000 members a month.