Raheem Kassam, a former aide to Nigel Farage, has dropped out of the race to become Ukip leader, saying “the path to victory is too narrow”.
In a statement released on Monday morning, Kassam said:
After much consideration, I have decided not to pursue my campaign to be UKIP leader any further. This was a very difficult decision, and I want to thank everyone who supported me in the process.
It is a decision I have not taken lightly, but following meetings this weekend I realised the path to victory is too narrow. I would encourage my supporters to back Peter Whittle, who I think would make a fantastic leader of the party.
Kassam, who is editor in chief of Breitbart London, also complained about “disgraceful treatment by the media”.
He said he would be pursuing a “harassment complaint” against a Times journalist for “intimidating” his elderly parents.
During his short-lived campaign, Kassam was confronted with a series of aggressive tweets he has sent, including one in which he said Nicola Sturgeon should have her legs taped shut.
The race is now seen as a fight between former deputy leader Paul Nuttall and former deputy chairman Suzanne Evans.
Whittle, a Ukip member of the London Assembly, now has Kassam’s backing.
John Rees Evans, who last week admitted it was a “mistake” to claim a “homosexual donkey” tried to rape his horse, is also standing.
Ukip MP Douglas Carswell, who has fought internal-party battle with Farage and Kassam responded to his dropping out of the race with a simple tweet.
The deadline for nominations closes at noon today. Ukip is holding a leadership contest after Diane James stood down after just 18 days in charge.
Farage, who tried to resign as leader following the Brexit result, is currently acting as interim leader.
Kassam had formally launched his bid on Friday morning and described himself as the “Faragest of the Faragists”.
He said while Farage “tried” to keep the party under control, Kassam added, the party now needed a “CEO, somebody who knows how to run an organisation”.
“Bless him, that’s not to say that Nigel didn’t try. But frankly he was trying so hard to get us out of the European Union - and credit to him for that - that he can be forgiven for some of that, for all of that”, he said.
Kassam told The Huffington Post UK he had chosen his slogan - “Make Ukip Great Again” - after Ronald Reagan rather than Donald Trump, but admitted that “if Trump hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have done it either”.
He added: “I’m just a bloke, I’ve got to call attention to my campaign somehow”.