Nigel Farage has hinted he will purge Ukip’s MEPs ahead of the 2014 elections to the European Parliament, which he hopes to win.
“We’ll be getting ready for our selection process for the European elections in 2014, which I hope will be an improved selection process on what happened last time round,” he said.
After laughter from the assembled press he added: “Well it couldn’t be worse could it?”
“We’ll be looking for any by elections that come along, wherever they take place in the UK, and we will pounce on them.”
Shortly before the Eastleigh by-election Ukip MEP Marta Andreasen accused Farage of being a "Stalinist dictator" and defected to the Tories.
In 2011, David Campbell Bannerman, a former Ukip leadership candidate and party chairman, quit to return to the Conservative Party.
And in 2009 MEP Tom Wise was sentences for two years in prison for expenses fraud.
Farage was not the leader of Ukip at the time of the 2009 European elections, having relinquished control to Lord Pearson in order to focus on winning a seat in the House of Commons.
However after a comic performance in the 2010 general election, in which he infamously was unable to remember the contents of his party’s own manifesto, Pearson stepped down. He admitted he was "not much good" at party politics and Farage made a return.
One likely candidate for election in 2014 is Diane James, the Ukip candidate in Eastleigh who humiliated the Tories and came close to pulling off a shock win.