Wales politics

New UKIP leader Paul Nuttall holding talks on Nathan Gill's two jobs

Paul Nuttall in the Senedd
Image caption New UKIP leader Paul Nuttall visted his party's AMs in the assembly on Tuesday

New UKIP leader Paul Nuttall is holding negotiations over whether the former UKIP Wales chief Nathan Gill can continue to be both an AM and an MEP.

Mr Nuttall said there will be a decision "before Christmas".

He said that a planned ballot of party members in Wales on the 'double-jobbing' issue would not "necessarily" take place.

MEP Mr Nuttall met the party's AMs at the Senedd on Tuesday.

He was elected leader last week having won 62.6% of support from party members.

During the leadership campaign, Mr Nuttall warned infighting among UKIP members in the assembly must come to an end if the party is to survive.

Image caption Mr Nuttall said the main reason he was at the assembly was "unity"

"The main reason I'm here in the Senedd is unity. We need to bring ourselves back together," Mr Nuttall said.

He said he had not yet spoken "at length" to Mr Gill about the rift between him and group leader Neil Hamilton.

Mr Nuttall said he will be meeting Mr Gill in Strasbourg next week and will return to the assembly for further discussions.

He said the party will take a "collective decision" on whether Mr Gill can continue to have both jobs - "not only me as party leader but also the National Executive Committee (NEC)".

"We will have a decision before Christmas," he said.

Whether a ballot - earlier proposed by the NEC - goes ahead "will be dependent on the outcome of the meetings and conversations that we have next week", he said.

Mr Nutall said it would "not necessarily" take place. "That will be dependent on what happens next week," he said.

"If this can be sorted in house without any cost to the party, behind closed doors, I would prefer to see it done that way," he said, describing the ballot as a "last resort".

On whether he would like to have Mr Gill back in the assembly group, he said: "I don't like to see anybody leaving UKIP in any way shape or form. These are negotiations which are ongoing."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nathan Gill (right) has said he would step away from being an AM or an MEP if Mr Nuttall asked him to

A rift between Nathan Gill and UKIP AM for Mid and West Wales Neil Hamilton emerged when Mr Hamilton was chosen by a majority of UKIP's seven AMs to lead them in the Senedd following the election in May.

Mr Gill then left UKIP's group in the assembly to sit as an independent AM for north Wales after being threatened with expulsion for refusing to give up his other elected role as an MEP.

Mr Nuttall had been criticised after he said in his acceptance speech that he would "promote the English".

At the news conference he said he had not "forgotten about Wales".

"Let's not forget. You guys have an assembly here. Scotland has a parliament. The Northern Irish have an assembly.

"Yet the English have nothing. That's why the devolution agreement was unfair to England, and that has to be addressed on the basis of fairness."

He said a federal Britain "is the way it's going. It's the direction of travel".

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