The frontrunner to succeed Nigel Farage as Ukip leader could be expelled from the race after handing in his nomination papers after the deadline, the Huff Post UK has been told.
All candidates wanting to formally enter the leadership race had to submit their application today, complete with 50 nominees and a cheque for £5,000.
A Ukip source told Huff Post UK that Steven Woolfe, the MEP who is favourite to take over from Farage, handed in his nomination papers 17 minutes after today’s 12noon deadline - meaning he could be disqualified from standing.
Woolfe is already facing questions over whether he can stand for leader after the Huff Post UK revealed he failed to pay his membership fees from December 2014 until March 2016. Any candidate in the election much be a member of good standing for at least two years.
A Ukip source told Huff Post UK this afternoon: “Woolfe handed in his papers late. Maybe he was struggling to get the number of nominations needed. It will be interesting to see how the NEC plays this and if they let him through.”
At 3pm a four-person panel, including future Ukip Chairman Paul Oakden, convened to sort through the nominations to decide who was eligible.
A spokesman for Woolfe confirmed his nomination was sent late, but blamed it on “technical problems”.
The spokesman said: “Steven Woolfe remains a candidate in the Ukip leadership contest.
“He submitted his application form at 11.35am this morning, in advance of the midday deadline.
“However, due to technical problems on the party system, it did not successfully go through until 12.17pm.
“Mr Woolfe was speaking to party officials responsible for handling the application process throughout this time and right up to the deadline.
“He informed them that he was having technical problems.
“These problems were finally resolved and the paperwork submitted.”
The Huff Post UK can today also reveal that NEC member Marion Mason emailed colleagues on the evening of Thursday July 28 asking for change to the eligibility rules - a move which would have benefitted Woolfe.
It is with great trepidation that I would like to propose another vote on eligibilityto stand for election.Please read on before “cursing”.I have no preference in whomever wishes to stand I, like all our members willchoose the person best equipped to lead our party forward.Those members as described in our constitution as “in good standing” will be choosing.Therefore I propose the election is open to any member in”good standing”as it wasbefore we decided to change it. This obviously is a member where 28 days have lapsedsince the commencement of their membership.I voted for 5 years, will not go into my reasons for this at the moment.[REDACTED]The other criteria for candidates would remain the same £5.000 deposit etc.What about the timing mechanism and the legal situation you are asking.We could extend the time to apply by 3 weeks which is exactly the period that the currentapplication has been.Vetting, done quickly, reduce/compact the hustings over a shorter period.Voting papers out back and checked could still make the deadline of the 16th announcementI propose eligibility for standing in leadership election to be 28 days membershipcan I have a seconder?