Wales politics

UKIP Wales members back me as leader, says Nathan Gill

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Media captionNathan Gill: 'People who back me outweigh those who don't'

UKIP's leader in Wales has insisted he has the backing of party members, despite calls for him to stand down in a row over assembly candidates.

Nathan Gill said claims he had failed to represent rank-and-file members were "nonsense".

He refused to quit in the run-up to May's election, with pollsters tipping UKIP to win its first Senedd seats.

Mr Gill also said he was determined to campaign in the EU referendum - "the whole reason why I joined UKIP".

"I can't give up at the last hurdle," he told BBC Wales Today.

Four UKIP general election candidates have said Mr Gill should stand down because of a row over the party's regional list candidates for May's election.

Some activists complained that former Tory MPs Neil Hamilton and Mark Reckless were set to be imposed as candidates by the party centrally.

UKIP's National Executive Committee (NEC) has said it will give party members the final say over the ranking of regional candidates.

The NEC had met three times in three weeks to agree the selection process "because I stood firm about what I knew we needed for Wales", Mr Gill said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Some UKIP members object to the idea of Neil Hamilton (pictured with wife Christine) standing

He added: "I know the quality of the people that we've got, the passionate membership, the capability that we have, and I've stood up for them.

"And maybe some of the members haven't seen that because it's happened behind closed doors, but I've stood up for Wales."

He refused to be drawn on whether he wanted Mr Hamilton to stand for UKIP, saying it was up to members to decide.

Mr Gill - a Euro-MP who wants to stand in the north Wales region for the assembly - was appointed as UKIP's Welsh leader by Nigel Farage in 2014.

He said: "There are people who obviously don't like me and there are people who do like me.

"But I think the people who back me by far outweigh those who don't."

Some of his critics had spoken out "for personal reasons" after changing their minds about whether they wanted to be candidates, he said.

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