UKIP petition calls for Wales leader Gill to be removed

Nathan GillImage source, Getty Images

A petition calling for Nathan Gill to be removed as UKIP Wales leader has been sent to the party's ruling body.

It follows claims that party leaders want to impose candidates from outside Wales for the assembly election.

Six general election candidates signed the petition which claims there is "no coherent plan" to fight the campaign and "no effective leadership" in Wales.

UKIP has questioned the credibility of the petition and its Wales chairman said "disgruntled members" signed it.

Many Welsh activists have raised objections to former Conservative MPs Mark Reckless and Neil Hamilton being in the running for selection, accusing the party of "parachuting" them in.

Earlier in February, Mr Gill announced that local members would decide the rankings of candidates for regional list seats, not the party's national executive committee.

However, some Welsh members remain unhappy at the way the matter has been handled, with UKIP Vale of Glamorgan councillor Kevin Mahoney quitting the party.

'No faith'

"It is understood by all that UKIP in Wales is operated on the basis of mutual respect and understanding," the petition states.

"In light of the extraordinary circumstances prevailing and indeed, as a last resort, to prevent further harm and disharmony within 'the party' it is necessary to censure and remove those responsible forthwith."

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

The petition accused Mr Gill of showing "a lack of leadership in all aspects pertaining to this matter".

It said "through his inactivity or unwillingness to resolve the prevailing circumstances, [he] has exacerbated the situation to the point where members no longer have faith in his ability to lead UKIP in Wales in any effective way".

UKIP general election candidates backing the petition were Joe Smyth (Islwyn), Darran Thomas (Brecon and Radnorshire), Ken Beswick (Torfaen), Blair Smillie (Alyn and Deeside), Nigel Williams (Delyn), and Paul Davies Cooke (Vale of Clwyd).

Media caption,
Nigel Williams: 'People have no idea what's going on'

Mr Williams, one of the petition organisers, said it was "better late than never" to raise their concerns with the assembly election so close.

He called for a leadership election, saying UKIP Wales could choose "any one from ten great people" but Wales chairman David Rowlands said it "adds nothing to the debate".

Gethin James, a UKIP councillor and assembly election candidate for Ceredigion, told BBC Radio Cymru: "It's not a good situation, but I'm 100% behind Nathan Gill.

"People don't know how much work he's done.

"The problem is with the national executive, not with Nathan Gill."

On Tuesday, Mr Gill told BBC Wales he had no intention of standing down, saying claims that he had failed to support rank-and-file members in Wales were "nonsense".

A UKIP Wales spokesman said: "Despite efforts of one or two individuals phoning around the party membership in Wales their petty 26 person petition included someone from England, six people who were not even members and a growing number who denied even ever signing it."

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