Wales politics

Neil Hamilton calls on Mark Reckless to resign UKIP seat

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Media captionHamilton: Reckless has 'no moral right' to assembly seat

UKIP's leader in the Welsh Assembly Neil Hamilton has called Mark Reckless a "common thief" who should resign his seat in Cardiff Bay.

Mr Reckless left UKIP to sit as a member of the Tory group although he has not rejoined the party. He declined to comment.

Newly elected party leader Henry Bolton said UKIP in Wales had "in some ways been an example of success".

Both were speaking on the final day of UKIP's annual conference in Torquay.

Accompanied on stage by the song Men of Harlech, Mr Hamilton told party members Mr Reckless had "no moral right" to remain in the Senedd - despite him not having broken any assembly rules.

He said the South East Wales AM should stand down and give his seat to the candidate below him on UKIP's regional list for the assembly elections.

Mr Hamilton's recollection of a sexism row that was sparked after he described two senior female AMs as "political concubines" was well-received by party members in the hall.

Image caption Neil Hamilton at the UKIP party conference

UKIP AMs, he added, had been elected to "break up the cosy consensus" in the Senedd and his group could act as a "template of how the party should work in a domestic setting".

In a little over a year, the party's group in the assembly has been reduced from seven to five members and has been beset by a series of negative headlines.

In an interview with BBC Wales, UKIP Leader Mr Bolton was asked whether he believed that was a template he would wish to follow.

"Not the one that you've just painted, no," he replied.

"However I think Wales has in some ways been an example of success.

"It's also been an example of how our own internal management can break down and create those splits and those divisions. I want to really unite the party."

Image caption Henry Bolton was elected the party's new leader on Friday

He described the situation where UKIP's former Welsh leader Nathan Gill sits as one of the party's MEPs in Brussels but as an independent in the Senedd as "untidy".

Asked if he would like to tidy the situation, Mr Bolton said: "Yeah, of course I would.

"I'm going to have a number of talks… with a number of people in the party over the coming weeks."

But Mr Hamilton told the Sunday Politics Wales programme he had "completely given up" on seeing Mr Gill return to the group.

Mr Bolton will talk to party members in Wales over the coming weeks to discuss the possibility of changing UKIP's constitution in order give the Welsh party a formal footing.

Mr Hamilton said he wanted "to see devolution within UKIP because devolution does make a difference… and we have to reflect that in our party structures as well".

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