POLITICS
18/06/2015 19:16 BST | Updated 18/06/2015 19:59 BST

Ukip Axe Suzanne Evans As Party Spokesman After She Calls Farage 'Divisive'

Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Ukip deputy chairman Suzanne Evans

Ukip deputy chairman Suzanne Evans has been effectively sacked as a party spokesman just hours after calling Nigel Farage “divisive”.

Appearing on the BBC’s Daily Politics this afternoon, Ms Evans was asked if she thought the Ukip leader should be one of the figures of the ‘out’ campaign in the upcoming EU referendum.

Ms Evans, who wrote the party’s widely acclaimed General Election manifesto, replied that Mr Farage was viewed as a divisive figure and should not take a leading role.

She appeared to be echoing comments made by Mr Farage just yesterday, when he admitted that not everyone likes him and there are "better" people to take charge of the campaign.

Just hours after making the comments, a “directive” was sent out from a senior Ukip figure effectively firing Ms Evans from her role as a spokesman.

The email, obtained by the BBC's Robin Brant, read: “I have just spoken to Nigel and in light of Suzanne Evans’ comments on TDP I am issuing this directive.

"1. From this moment onwards no one employed by the Ukip press office is to have any further contact with SE [Suzanne Evans].

"2. No bids are to be accepted for SE and she is not to be offered as an official Ukip spokesman.

"3. No one is to brief SE or advise her on any issue.”

Ms Evans appearance on the BBC this afternoon appeared to signal the end of the infighting in Ukip which consumed the party in the wake of the General Election.

Mr Farage stood down as leader just hours after failing to win the seat of South Thanet, and anointed Ms Evans as his temporary replacement ahead of a leadership election in the autumn.

However, three days later he withdrew his resignation after Ukip's National Executive Committee chose not to accept it.

In the following days, senior Ukippers including economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn hit out at Mr Farage's advisors Raheem Kassam and Matthew Richardson, saying they had turned the party leader into a "snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive'" man.

Mr Richardson resigned - before coming back to his role as party secretary this week - while Mr Kassam left the party after his contract expired.

Mr O'Flynn resigned from his economic brief and publicly apologised to Mr Farage, while Ms Evans did not have her contract has the party's policy guru renewed.

Ms Evans today said the chaotic events - dubbed CoupKip - were "traumatic" and "party members got very upset about it". But she claimed that the party has already "got over it".

"There was no plot," she added. "There were whisperings." But Ms Evans added senior colleagues have to be "braver" if they feel Mr Farage is being badly advised.

The Ukip leader faced a backlash after he blasted NHS treatment for foreign HIV patients, part of as so-called "shock and awe" strategy.

Ms Evans said there was a "crucial debate" to be had around "health tourism", but conceded there are "ways of saying it".

"He could have put it in a more collegiate way that would have bought more people on board," she said. "It was a stark way of putting it."

Presenter Andrew Neil pressed her on whether a "Marmite" politician such as Mr Farage, who wants to play a major role in the debate, should be leading the "out" EU referendum campaign.

Ms Evans said: "Nigel is a very divisive figure in terms of the way he is perceived. He is not divisive as a person. The way he is perceived is having strong views that divide people. In that sense he is right (not to take a leading role). I think it will be somebody else that fronts it."