Wales politics

UKIP's Diane James says Neil Hamilton is leader in Wales

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Media captionDiane James says she has been having "constructive meetings" with Neil Hamilton and other UKIP AMs

UKIP leader Diane James has said Neil Hamilton is the party's leader in Wales during a visit to Cardiff.

Ms James has been meeting UKIP AMs to try and solve the rift between Mr Hamilton and UKIP MEP Nathan Gill.

Mr Gill had been appointed UKIP Wales leader by her predecessor Nigel Farage.

Asked who was UKIP's Welsh leader during a series of chaotic impromptu interviews in the Senedd, Ms James told ITV Wales: "I understand it's Neil Hamilton at the moment."

She walked off without answering when asked the same question by BBC Wales.

Ms James said she would "love to see" Mr Gill rejoin the party's group in the Assembly.

He is now sitting as an independent AM after leaving UKIP's seven-strong assembly group, claiming "infighting" had become a "distraction" from its work.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Diane James (second left) has tried to downplay reports of divisions within UKIP in Wales

Ms James has been holding a series of one-to-one meetings with AMs in Cardiff on Monday, away from the assembly.

Following the first of her meetings - with UKIP assembly group leader Mr Hamilton - she posed for pictures with UKIP AMs at the Senedd.

Mr Gill was absent, having been held up in traffic.

Ms James added that she wanted to tackle the rift in the party "step by step" and "develop something that delivers both what the existing group wants at the moment and equally what Mr Gill wants".

Last week, following her election as UKIP leader, she admitted she had inherited some "disarray in Wales" but said UKIP's AMs were "a superb bunch".

Image caption Nathan Gill greeted Diane James at the UKIP conference, where she was named leader

She said Mr Gill was a "very, very valued" MEP who had her "100% support".

A spokesman for the UKIP Welsh Assembly group said: "Diane James has confirmed that as far as she is concerned, the UKIP leader for Wales is Neil Hamilton."

Asked if the rift with Mr Gill could be mended, Mr Hamilton said: "That depends on him.

"Ultimately we are all elected as UKIP members and we hope to get back to the happy state of affairs, which isn't often found in politics."

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