Ukip chairman quits as pressure mounts on party leader Henry Bolton
The chairman of Ukip has resigned from his post as pressure continues to mount on party leader Henry Bolton.
Paul Oakden told members that he voluntarily terminated his contract at the end of January.
His last act as chairman will be to chair an extraordinary general meeting on Saturday where Mr Bolton’s fate will be decided.
The leader of the party has faced pressure to quit over his relationship with model Jo Marney, who sent racist messages about Meghan Markle.
Party officials said that Mr Oakden’s decision to leave had nothing to do with an email he sent to party members at the weekend, which was signed ‘interim leader’.
He said he would quit ‘irrespective of the outcome’ of the crunch meeting in Birmingham, which is expected to be attended by thousands of Ukip members.
Mr Oakden said: ‘I have made this decision irrespective of the outcome of the EGM and I’m announcing it now to ensure that it remains absolutely unconnected to whatever democratic decision the membership may take on Saturday.
‘As party chairman, appointed by the leader but answerable to the NEC, I have been required to remain impartial in the current process.
‘As always, I have absolute faith in our membership to do what is necessary to protect the long term future of our party.’
The party’s ruling national executive committee backed a motion of no confidence in Mr Bolton last month after it was revealed 25-year-old Ms Marney had made offensive comments about Prince Harry’s fiancee and black people.
Mr Bolton said the couple broke up following the revelations but has since admitted he still has ‘strong feelings’ for Ms Marney.
He now faces a vote over his leadership at Saturday’s meeting.