POLITICS

Suzanne Evans On Leading Ukip: 'Tried That, Something Went Wrong ;) ;) ;)'

26/05/2015 14:04 BST | Updated 26/05/2015 14:59 BST
Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Ukip economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn and Ukip deputy chairman Suzanne Evans speaking about housing at a press conference in London.

Ukip's deputy chairman Suzanne Evans has indicated she is still interested in succeeding Nigel Farage as leader of Ukip and cheekily alluded to the explosive internal row that consumed the party in the days after the election.

Evans also said the number of controversial comments made by Ukip candidates showed its process for selecting people to stand for the party was "not working".

Evans, who wrote Ukip's general election manifesto, lost her job as party policy chief following a very public argument over the future direction of the party.

Senior Ukip MEP Patrick O'Flynn also lost his job as economics spokesman and was forced to deny he had been plotting a coup against Farage. O'Flynn had described the Ukip leader as "snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive" in an interview with The Times.

Taking part in a Reddit 'Ask Me Anything' (AMA) on Monday, Evans was asked if she would stand in any future leadership contest. "No idea. Depends when it is and who else is standing. I might prefer to give them my support," she said.

Before adding later: "Been there, tried that, something went wrong ;) ;) ;)"

Farage had recommend Evans take over as interim leader after he resigned when he failed to get elected as MP for South Thanet. However Farage then "unresigned" and decided to stay on as leader. He has now moved to exert a more "autocratic" rule over Ukip.

Evans said of the row: "It's a real shame. There was so much that needed to be done straight after the election and this has all gotten in the way. I hope it's over now. As you say, whatever internal disagreements there have been, we are all 100% focussed on getting out of the EU.

And she said the fact she had O'Flynn both resigned at the same time was "just a coincidence", adding: "Honest!"

"All political parties will put people on contract to fulfil certain roles, like any organisation. Mine was to write the manifesto. Job done!" she said. "Writing that manifesto nearly killed me. It was an around the clock job. But I'm immensely proud of it :)"

Evans also repeated her call that the eurosceptic movement needed to reach out beyond the Ukip base if it had any chance of winning the upcoming referendum.

"I think it's got to be a wider alliance. As brilliant as we are, we only polled 14% across the country. We need 51% to win an Out vote in an EU referendum,:" she said.

And in a reference to those inside Ukip who wanted it to be more right-wing, she added: "Sadly I think there are a few 'tea party' types who would drag UKIP back to being a right-wing 'more Tory than the Tories' party, yes.

"Personally, and especially given how our messages are resonating with former Labour voters, I sincerely hope that won't happen."

She added of O'Flynn's comments about Farage: "Patrick tells me he was talking about Nigel's public image, not him personally, but that his words were spun. I hope people won't be too hard on him. He worked SO hard during the campaign; was a brilliant campaign director; and he's an astoundingly clever and insightful man. I was sorry he resigned, but understood why he felt the need to do so."

Ukip has been plagued by arguments over controversial comments made by its candidates and elected officials. Evans told Reddit readers that she had been "banging on" for months about how bad it made the party look.

"Not least because it's usually me who has to go on the telly and pick up the pieces afterwards. It gets a bit depressing, I can tell you! I think our candidate assessment process needs a thorough overhaul. It's clearly not working. I will keep going on about it until someone listens!!" she said.