EXCL Ukip chairman told Henry Bolton to quit
Ukip chairman Paul Oakden urged Henry Bolton to quit as leader, PoliticsHome can reveal, as the embattled boss was hit by a fresh string of resignations.
The party chair teamed up with general secretary Paul Oakley to try to persuade Mr Bolton to stand down ahead of the vote of no-confidence passed by party bosses yesterday.
It was revealed as Ukip education spokesman David Kurten, assistant deputy leader Mike Hookem and trade spokesman William Dartmouth joined the list of those resigning.
But a defiant Mr Bolton insisted he would stay on and let the Ukip membership decide whether to oust him.
The National Executive Committee yesterday passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in Mr Bolton but he still refused to resign over the scandal surrounding his relationship with Jo Marney.
Mr Bolton, 54, left his wife for the 25-year-old model, who it later emerged sent racist messages including saying Meghan Markle would “taint” the Royal Family with her “seed”.
Mr Oakden did not get a vote with the NEC yesterday and has so far remained neutral on the scandal - although he said he was “disappointed” the executive wanted to trigger a new leadership contest.
But PoliticsHome understands he and Mr Oakley had a private conversation with Mr Bolton after the leader made a speech to the NEC imploring them to keep him on.
“Henry said his piece and left the room while people discussed matters,” a source said. “It was at that point that the two Pauls had a private word with him.”
But even after the chat and the no confidence vote, Mr Bolton refused to stand aside - meaning members will get a chance to decide on his fate.
A source said: "Henry Bolton's refusal to quit is a consequence of his military background. If he's attacked he fights back."
Mr Kurten said it was time for Mr Bolton "to step down with dignity rather than extending the current debacle for another 4 weeks".
Margot Parker resigned as deputy leader this morning saying Mr Bolton should go “sooner rather than later” to get the party out of the "limbo" he had created.
John Bickley meanwhile quit as immigration spokesman telling his party leader his "time is up".
Sports spokesman Bill Etheridge and Brexit spokesman Gerard Batten stood down in recent days. Senior advisor to the leader Jonathan Arnott even quit the party.
An MEP source told PoliticsHome Mr Bolton had become “bereft of all authority” and should have left two weeks ago when the racism scandal first broke.
Under Ukip rules an emergency meeting of member representatives must be held in the next 28 days to support or reject the no confidence verdict.
Mr Bolton told the Westmonster website: “I’m not standing down, I’m going to take this to an Emergency General Meeting and follow the constitutional process. If the members vote me out that’s up to them."
Yesterday he argued a fresh leadership contest - its fourth in 18 months - could finish the ailing party off.
The former army officer told ITV’s Peston show: “If the NEC decides to go down the route of months of further infighting and further negative media scrutiny by deciding to pass a vote of no confidence in me, then I think that the reality is that the party is probably over.”