Saturday 17 March 2018

Woolfe's bid for leadership of Ukip stalls after 'tussle'

Steven Woolfe is being kept in hospital for another 48 hours for observation
Steven Woolfe is being kept in hospital for another 48 hours for observation
UK Independence Party MEP, Steven Woolfe, lying face-down on a walk-way inside the European Parliament building in Strasbourg in eastern France. Picture: AFP PHOTO / ITV NEWS
Ukip's Steven Woolfe alongside party leader Nigel Farage. Photo: PA

Shaun Connolly in London

Steven Woolfe is coming under pressure to abandon his Ukip leadership bid following his altercation with a fellow MEP which left the frontrunner in hospital.

Senior party figures suggested Mr Woolfe's apparent willingness to resort to violence rendered him unfit for leadership.

Mr Woolfe, who is recovering in hospital in Strasbourg, sought to extend the "hand of friendship" to Mike Hookem, the other MEP involved in the confrontation in the European Parliament.

But while Mr Hookem dismissed the incident as a "handbags at dawn, girl-on-girl" scuffle, he insisted he had not thrown any punches and that Mr Woolfe had been the aggressor.

Meanwhile, president of the European Parliament Martin Schultz announced that he is launching an investigation into the conduct of the two MEPs, which could see them suspended from voting and having their expenses cut.

Mr Hookem said reports that he punched the MEP were incorrect.

He told the Press Association: "That's totally wrong. I never touched him, never hit him, never punched him, never slapped him or anything else I've been accused of doing."

Mr Hookem said the flashpoint came when Mr Woolfe told him: "Well if that's the tone of this meeting, maybe me and you should take it outside the room, mano-a-mano."

He said Mr Woolfe then picked up his jacket and went out of the room.

"So, I went out of the room into this small anteroom where he came at me. And what occurred was a tussle.

"The door opened. I backed off. Steven fell through the door and I went back to sit back down again."

Irish Independent

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