Henry Bolton has vowed to fight on as Ukip leader despite a vote of no confidence from his party’s ruling committee and wave of frontbench resignations.
The former soldier revealed this afternoon he would stay on in the top job and vowed to “drain the swamp” in the party.
Bolton was facing pressure to quit following revelations his now ex-girlfriend made racist comments about Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle.
Yet despite frontbench figures resigning their posts in protest at his leadership - including deputy leader Margot Parker - Bolton today announced he would not be going.
In a statement this afternoon, Bolton said: “I respect the next steps in the constitutional process and will therefore not be resigning as Party leader.
“I repeat: I shall not be resigning as Party leader.”
He then attacked Ukip’s National Executive Committee, and said he had urged them not to push through with a vote of no confidence as it would led to a “financial and political cost” to the party.
He claimed the NEC is “is unfit for purpose” and has “severely handicapped the Party’s progress and political delivery for some years, as all recent UKIP leaders will attest.”
Bolton went on: “It has not only lost the confidence of me as the Party leader in its ability to act objectively as the Party’s governing body, it has also lost the confidence of a large proportion of the membership.
“The NEC requires significant and urgent reform. To that end, again during the coming weeks, I shall be proposing a new Party constitution, with a newly constituted and reformed NEC. Likewise, it is now time to put an end to the factional in-fighting within the Party and to remove those who have been a part of that.
“In a single Phrase, it is time to ‘Drain the Swamp’.”
Bolton then claimed that despite his beleaguered leadership, he would try to bring together the various Brexit-backing campaigns to try to put pressure on Theresa May’s Government during its negotiations with the EU.
He said: ’During the next four weeks I shall be calling for the coordination and mobilisation of all Leave campaigns, to ensure that the government delivers full independence from the European Union in all areas of government and administration and I shall be calling for the Party itself to mobilise to support this agenda.
“This is the most pressing matter facing our country and I am determined not to allow the NEC to distract the Party away from participating forcefully in the Independence debate.”
Bolton was given a vote of no-confidence by the NEC during a two and a half hour meeting on Sunday.
The under-fire leader was offered the chance resign with dignity, but decided to fight on - a decision he repeated today.
Since yesterday’s developments, more of Ukip’s frontbench have resigned in protest at Bolton’s leadership, including deputy leader Margot Parker and Education spokesman David Kurten.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, a senior source with intimate knowledge of Sunday’s NEC meeting said: “The man’s a cock-led conceited ass.”
They added: “We may well have to expel him from the party after the EGM.”