UKIP frontrunner hospitalised after fight at party meet
UK Independence Party (UKIP) leadership hopeful Steven Woolfe was on Thursday rushed to hospital in a “serious” condition after he was punched by a colleague in the far-right anti-EU party during an “altercation”. Woolfe, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), suffered two seizures hours after what the party described as an “altercation” with fellow UKIP members in the European Parliament. According to reports, Woolfe was punched by his party colleague Mike Hookem.
“I deeply regret that following an altercation that took place at a meeting of UKIP MEPs this morning that Steven Woolfe subsequently collapsed and was taken to hospital. His condition is serious,” UKIP interim leader Nigel Farage, who spearheaded the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum, said in a statement.
Woolfe is seen as the favourite to take over from Farage as party leader after a newly-elected leader, Diane James, had stepped down recently after just 18 days in the post.
Woolfe issued a statement from hospital in Strasbourg: “The CT scan has shown that there is no blood clot in the brain. I am feeling brighter, happier and smiling as ever. I am sitting up and said to look well.
“The only consequence at the moment is a bit of numbness on the left hand side of my face. I am being kept in overnight awaiting secondary tests to make sure everything is fine.” Raheem Kassam, the other candidate to have declared for the UKIP leadership so far, tweeted his best wishes for Woolfe.
UKIP MEP Roger Helmer told the BBC the incident followed “some lively exchanges” at a closed meeting of party MEPs on Thursday morning.
He said the gathering happened “a good two hours” before a voting session from which he understood Woolfe left. The latest incident comes against a background of bitter rivalry and feuding in the UKIP ranks, with many senior figures openly at odds with each other.