Nigel Farage has handed the embattled Ukip chief Henry Bolton a lifeline, suggesting he could be the party’s version of Jeremy Corbyn and have his leadership saved by the rank and file members.
Referring to the vote of no confidence passed by Labour MPs in the summer of 2016 in Mr Corbyn, the former Ukip chief said: “As one party spokesman after another resigns, I am reminded of the nightmare Jeremy Corbyn faced in 2016 when 21 members of his shadow cabinet resigned”.
His comments came after the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) unanimously backed a motion of no confidence in Mr Bolton on Sunday following the disclosure that his 25-year-old former girlfriend Jo Marney allegedly made racist remarks about Prince Harry’s fiancee, Meghan Markle.
But after repeatedly refusing to resign from his role, Mr Bolton’s future will now be decided at a emergency meeting of Ukip members next month.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Farage added: “Corbyn was written off by the press, but the rank and file membership saved him.
“If Bolton has the courage and the vision to introduce a new constitution, and shows that he can be a strong spokesman for Britain leaving the single market, taking back its fisheries and restoring pride in the UK, he may well surprise all of his critics too.”
Mr Farage also said that Mr Bolton knew Ukip “must reform or die” and adapt to the digital age.
He continued: “His refusal to accept the NEC decision to quit, and his insistence on carrying out a full EGM, could provide lifeline for Ukip. For this crisis is about more than Henry Bolton. It is about whether Ukip is fit for purpose.
“He’s got a month to prove himself,” Mr Farage added on BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, adding: “I don’t know whether I will vote for him”.
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But speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Bolton warned that the party cannot afford another leadership contest after several senior officials resigned from their posts in protest at the leader’s refusal to step down.
“It’s the NEC that has failed to address internal disciplinary matters,” Mr Bolton said.” It’s failed to unite the party and it’s full of people who have always backed different people in the party and added to the fractionalisation of the party.”
He added: “We cannot politically afford another leadership contest and what’s really important going forward is we bring some stability to this. I’m attempting to do that.”