Gerard Batten says staying on as Ukip leader 'untenable' if he loses seat in European elections
Ukip leader Gerard Batten has said place as leader would become "untenable" if he loses his seat in the European elections.
The Ukip boss said he was waiting to see the outcome of the EU-wide vote before deciding on his future with the party, but admitted it would difficult to stay on as leader if he lost his London MEP seat.
Speaking to Sky's Sophie Ridge, Mr Batten dismissed recent polling showing support for his party sitting on 3% saying: "The poll I will believe will be the one on Thursday".
Instead, he said backing for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party - which is currently leading the polls - was being "bigged up" because the group did not present a "domestic threat" after the European elections.
He added: "Much of this is designed to be a self-fufilling prophecy. I don't actually believe the polls."
But he admitted that his own tenure as leader could be at risk if he fails to retain his seat later this week.
"I think if I lost my seat in London it would be untenable for me to continue as leader.
"But I won't make a decision on what I am going to do until after the European elections," he said.
"I am getting a lot of people from within the party, overwhelming saying to me that whatever the result is they want me to continue."
The party announced earlier this year that it would hold a leadership contest in the wake of the European elections, but Mr Batten has so far refused to confirm whether he would stand.
He added: "I will base my decision on the outcome of the European elections and how I feel afterwards."
CARL BENJAMIN ROW
Meanwhile, Mr Batten dismissed rape comments made by controversial Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin about Labour MP Jess Philips as a "very bad taste joke".
Mr Benjamin had tweeted to Ms Phillips in 2016: "I wouldn't even rape you."
But Mr Batten said: "He has another existence as a commentator and a comedian on the internet
"I don't condone that. I rang him up and made my views very clear to him and he won't be doing something like that again."
Repeatedly pressed on whether Ms Phillips deserved the abuse, the Ukip leader said "no".
But he added: "I don't really think it is an important issue compared to the real issue which is; why are we in an election which shouldn't be being held
"Really, the fate of the counry is at stake. Are we going to leave the European Union or not?"