A TOP UKIP official has voiced fears the party “could be finished” as a major donor suggested he might form a breakaway movement.
The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) voted by a majority to expel the MEP from this summer’s leadership election after he submitted his application 17 minutes late.
Three NEC members subsequently resigned their posts in protest at the decision, with Mr Woolfe branding the ruling body “not fit for purpose”.
“If we don’t get this right, we don’t get a competent leader who’s comfortable with the media, the party could be finished.
“It’s life or death now and that’s why I’ve taken such a strong decision to leave the NEC.
“Because we need reform and we need it now so that we are ready to fight the next general election and the local elections next year where we’re supposed to do quite well.
“We have been looking at whether a new party should start
Mr Woolfe had been backed by Mr Farage’s close allies while Ms Evans is supporting local councillor Lisa Duffy in the leadership election, who has been dubbed the ‘anti-Farage candidate’ by party insiders.
Mr Carswell has insisted he is remaining “absolutely neutral in the leadership contest”, pointing to the importance of the party’s only MP being able to work with any leader.
A source close to Ms Evans suggested it was unlikely she would want to dignify Mr McGough’s claims with a response.
Mr Banks, who funded the Leave.EU campaign during the EU referendum, added yesterday’s decision made such a scenario “more likely”.
Ukip chairman Paul Oakden said he ‘hoped’ the party would not split and denied barring Mr Woolfe was petty, insisting rules had to be followed.
She said: “Recent events have led me to believe that the membership are not being given a choice and that this election is simply a battle between two sides, each with a puppet candidate.”
Ms Collins said she did not want Ukip “to become the Aaron Banks party”, adding: “Aaron Banks does not own UKIP. We are not a commodity to be bought: you cannot buy political ideas and values.
“As much as I believe there are two candidates in this race who are being managed by one faction, I also believe that another candidate is being used by a group of people who are organising a coup.”
Adding to criticism of the party’s NEC, she added: “It seems to me to be using its position to remove Steven Woolfe as a candidate on the wishes of Douglas Carswell, Suzanne Evans and their supporters.”