Nigel Farage’s former aide Annabelle Fuller told suspended Ukip members Suzanne Evans to “shut up” last night at a party leadership hustings.
A furious Fuller told Evans to “shut up” after the former party deputy chairman tried to shush her during a leadership contender’s closing speech.
Fuller was arguing with the campaign manager of leadership candidate Lisa Duffy over claims he had commented on the revelation that the fiancée of another contender – Bill Etheridge – had discovered Viagra in his car.
After being told to shush by Evans – who is supporting Duffy – Fuller snapped back.
Speaking to the Huff Post UK this morning, Fuller – who now works for Ukip MEP Mike Hookem under her legal name of Trixy Sanderson - said: “I told Beecher to delete his tweet.
“Suzanne put her two pence in and I told her to shut up.”
Last night’s row is just another example of the increasingly bitter contest to succeed Farage as Ukip leader.
The early favourite was Steven Woolfe, an MEP for the North West who had the backing of high-profile Ukip donor Arron Banks.
His campaign seemed to be in trouble before it got off the ground, and his eligibility to stand was called into question after claims he had let his party membership lapse for 15 months.
He was eventually banned from standing by the NEC because he submitted his nomination papers 17 minutes after the deadline, prompting some – including Banks – to demand an Extraordinary General Meeting of the party in order to abolish the party’s ruling committee.
After Woolfe failed to make it on to the ballot paper, Banks switched his support behind Diane James, MEP for the South East.
Her campaign has repeatedly been dogged by claims that she does not actually want to run, and the Huff Post UK revealed last week she does not plan to attend any of the 12 leadership hustings.
One Ukip insider told the Huff Post UK: “If Diane becomes leader of Ukip she will act as a puppet for Nigel Farage, she will appoint Steven Woolfe as her deputy, and after a short stint she will stand down and let Woolfe take over, with Farage pulling the strings behind the scenes.”
The candidate with the most momentum seems to Lisa Duffy, who has secured a number of significant endorsements in the past few days. The party’s former health spokesperson Louise Bours yesterday announced she was backing Duffy, while Gerrard Batten, one of Ukip’s founding members, is also supporting her candidacy.
Duffy is a virtual unknown outside of Ukip circles, but the Ramsey Town Councillor has the support of MEP Patrick O’Flynn and former Deputy Chairmen Suzanne Evans.
While Duffy has attracted support from established party members, some members of Ukip’s youth wing – Young Independence - have been mocking the leadership contender.
In a closed Facebook group called ‘YI Faculty’, Oscar Gomez, a former local election candidate in North East Derbyshire, wrote: “Roll the fat fuck down the street and straight to the RSPCA. We can flog her off as an unwanted butchers dog.”
Another group member, Edwin Smith, wrote: “She rolls her sleeves up before assaulting another bucket of deep fried poultry.”
After a picture was posted of Duffy mocked up as Mr Blobby with the caption: “Mrs Duffy says Move on”, Smith wrote: “She needs to ‘move on’ to a treadmill.”
After being shown the comments by Huff Post UK, Duffy’s campaign manager Jay Beecher said: “The comments made by certain members are utterly disgraceful and have no place in Ukip, let alone civilised modern-day society.
“Lisa has gained overwhelming support from across the UK to be the next leader of Ukip.
“These vile attacks on her are clearly just a childish attempt by some of her competitors who see her as the main contender. We’re busy fighting for a bright future for Ukip, so we’ll do what we’ve always done: rise above them”