THREE members of the UKIP national executive have resigned after Steven Woolfe, the UKIP MEP widely considered the favourite in his party’s leadership race, was barred from standing.
A statement from the UKIP national executive committee (NEC) confirmed that Woolfe had narrowly missed the deadline to submit his nomination papers, and would not appear on the ballot of six candidates.
The decision had been delayed by a day in order to conduct additional checks amid controversy over Woolfe’s likely exclusion.
He had claimed that problems with the party’s website caused him to submit his form a quarter of an hour after the deadline.
“An NEC led panel sat yesterday afternoon to determine the eligibility of those that submitted nomination papers to stand to be UKIP’s new Party Leader,” a party statement said.
“By a clear majority of NEC members Steven Woolfe MEP’s application was considered to be ineligible as a result of a late submission and as such he did not meet the eligibility criteria. His membership of the Party was not in question.”
UKIP MEP Diane James is now considered to be the frontrunner, after being listed among the candidates.
However, Woolfe’s allies including outgoing party leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks, have been reported to be considering action against their own party over decision.
The other candidates are Councillor Bill Etheridge MEP, Elizabeth Jones, Jonathan Artnott MEP, Councillor Lisa Duffy, and Phillip Broughton.