UKIP sacks leader over girlfriend's racist messages
London: Britain's far-right UK Independence Party has sacked its leader after weeks of controversy surrounding his girlfriend s racist messages targeting Prince Harry s fiancee Meghan Markle.
Henry Bolton, who had refused to resign amid mounting pressure from within the party, was sacked following a 63 per cent vote in favour of a no-confidence motion against the leader at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the party in Birmingham on Saturday.
"I think it's going to be difficult to unite the party, what we have effectively had is a rejection of a new draft constitution, a reorganisation and indeed a new way of doing politics," said Bolton, who is thought to be considering legal action to challenge the result.
The 54-year-old former Army officer had faced calls to go after it emerged he was in a romantic relationship with Jo Marney, a model 29 years his junior, who had described black people as ugly and said Harry s mixed-race fiancee would taint the royal family, paving the way for a black king .
The married father of two who reportedly walked out on his family over Christmas last year suffered a string of UK Independence Party (UKIP) resignations following the leaked texts.
"I have said all along that once we got the EGM out of the way I would spend time sorting out my private life," he said in reference to his relationship with Marney, who he said he had "strong affections" for.
Marney responded to the EGM vote by tweeting: My love for Henry is unconditional of political leaderships .
Bolton was elected in September 2017 in the wake of UKIP's disastrous performance in the last year's General Election.
The party's national executive committee expressed no confidence in him last month, triggering this weekend s ballot. He lost the no-confidence motion by 867 votes to 500.
"Henry Bolton has been removed by the democratic decision of the membership," outgoing UKIP chairman Paul Oakden said.
UKIP s former Brexit spokesperson Gerard Batten will take over as interim leader of the party, with a leadership contest expected within 90 days.
"I believe that you have made the best decision that you could in the circumstances," Batten told the UKIP gathering.
The pro-Brexit, anti-immigrant party has seen four different leaders in the gap of a year.
Bolton s exit leaves UKIP seeking a new leader in the space of 18 months after Nigel Farage, Diane James and Paul Nuttal. The party, which made big gains in the 2014 European elections and got the third-largest vote share in the 2015 General Election with 12.6 per cent, has been suffering from an internal crisis in recent months. Its vote share plummeted to 1.8 per cent in the June 2017 snap General Election and has struggled to elect a leader who can fix its fortunes.