UK Politics

UKIP leader Henry Bolton: It's not all over

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionUKIP leader Henry Bolton says he still has 'strong affections' for Jo Marney

UKIP leader Henry Bolton is confident he will win the backing of his party in a vote of members next weekend, he told the BBC's Andrew Marr.

Mr Bolton suggested he was still in a relationship with Jo Marney, whose racist texts about Meghan Markle sparked a no-confidence vote in him.

"There are strong affections there, yes," he told Andrew Marr.

But he said the party had to reform under his leadership or continue to be on the sidelines in the Brexit debate.

"I am getting a huge amount of support from around the country because the membership know what's been going on within the party for a very long time and they know I am not responsible for that," he told Andrew Marr.

"They know that factionalisation needs to be dealt with if the party is going to professionalise and be effective."

Asked by Marr if his leadership was over, he said: "No, I don't believe it is."

'More evidence'

Mr Bolton, who became UKIP's fourth leader in 18 months in September, said the party could not afford another "four or five-month" leadership election.

"By then the party will have lost the opportunity to shape the future independence of this country, post-Brexit," he said.

Mr Bolton faced a string of front bench resignations after the party's National Executive Committee passed a vote of no confidence in him last month.

Senior UKIP figures said media coverage of Mr Bolton's personal life - and the way he had dealt with it - had made his position untenable.

The row erupted after it emerged that Jo Marney had sent racist private messages on Facebook, including one saying Prince Harry's fiancee Meghan Markle would "taint" the Royal Family.

At the time, Mr Bolton, who said the messages were sent before he met Ms Marney, described them as "utterly indefensible" and said he had ended the relationship.

He told Andrew Marr the messages had been taken out of context, adding: "In the days to come there will be more evidence presented as to how they were obtained,"

His future now depends on a vote of party members at an extraordinary general meeting next Saturday in Birmingham.

More on this story