Henry Bolton’s stint as Ukip leader looks to be coming to an end within days, with the party’s ruling committee set to turf him out at a meeting on Sunday.
The Ukip NEC will meet this weekend and HuffPost UK has learned the committee will seek to remove Bolton as party leader after further controversy around his private life.
Revelations Bolton left his wife for a Ukip activist almost 30 years his junior provoked anger in the party, with many feeling he had presented a false image of himself during last summer’s leadership campaign.
Those feelings have grown stronger since a series of text messages from his girlfriend Jo Marney were released which showed her making racist comments about Prince Harry’s fiancée Meghan Markle.
Bolton today revealed he had ended the “romantic part” of his relationship with Marney, who has been suspended by the party for her derogatory comments.
A member of Ukip’s NEC told HuffPost UK they feel “totally let down” by Bolton, who sold himself as a safe pair of hands who would revive the party’s flagging fortunes.
“I hope he bloody resigns, but he’s got nowhere to go,” they said.
When asked what Bolton has achieved during his stint as leader, the source said: “He hasn’t done anything.”
The source said Bolton “put himself forward as” as safe pair of hands and a family man during last summer’s leadership contest, in which he defeated higher profile party figures such as former London Mayor contender Peter Whittle and anti-Islam candidate Anne-Marie Waters.
Bolton kicked off his leadership by telling activists that “Brexit is our core task”, and used his first press conference as Ukip leader to insist his victory had prevented the party becoming the “UK Nazi Party”.
He told journalists: “I think the party has today voted for a leader who has been very open about what he feels is the way forward, and that’s myself of course.”
In the just over three months since he became the party’s fifth leader in a year, the former soldier has struggled to make an impact on the public consciousness.
Indeed, prior to his personal life hitting the headlines in recent days, Bolton’s most newsworthy moment came when he admitted he could kill a badger with his bare hands.
Ukip’s standing in the opinion polls has hovered around 4%, and it has been former leader Nigel Farage who has continued to dominate media coverage when it comes to the party having a voice in the Brexit debate.
After the revelations about Bolton’s private life, senior figures in the party have called on him to go, with MEP Bill Etheridge leaving his role as Sports spokesman and urging party members to lobby the NEC to get rid of the leader.
Even that development had the air of disarray, with Etheridge announcing on Facebook he had quit – only for Bolton to pop up in the comments to say he had been sacked.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, Etheridge insisted that he wanted Bolton gone not because of his actions in his private life, but because of his poor response to them as party leader.
“He’s causing the party untold damage,” he said, adding: “Henry was invisible up until the last few weeks.
“I think he’s going to have to be removed. The NEC have the duty to do the right thing.”
Etheridge also claimed the behind-the-scenes changes Bolton had brought in were more in keeping with the work of a chairman than leader.
In a newsletter to Ukip members in November, Bolton set out the task facing him after he took over the party’s top job.
“On taking office I looked in the money bucket and found it entirely empty. In fact it was worse than empty; it had a big hole in the bottom. There is no money – in fact for a year we have been running on an entirely unsustainable monthly deficit.
“The party has very few resources and I have inherited no office and no office equipment or staff. As you well know, despite the party sending out information over the summer, the technical flaws in our internal communication systems have meant that many of you haven’t heard anything from the centre for a long time. Likewise our planning and public profile has been almost non-existent.”
Bolton also revealed the party was losing members at the rate of up to a thousand a month.
“For the past 9 months, with one exception, we have lost between 800 and 1,000 members every month. I’m pleased to report that now the net figures have levelled out and presently stand at just under 25,000 (at this time in 2014 we had 22,000 members). So, whilst we may have been losing members, we have also been gaining new members since our conference and many people have re-joined.”