Senior UKIP member says departure of Steven Woolfe is “all for the good”

Toby Coke, leader of the UKIP group at Norfolk County Council. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Toby Coke, leader of the UKIP group at Norfolk County Council. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

One of the UK Independence Party's (UKIP) ruling executive has welcomed the departure of the MEP Steven Woolfe claiming it was 'all for the good'.

Toby Coke, the leader of UKIP on Norfolk County Council who is on the party's 12-strong national executive committee (NEC), said he had not been surprised by Mr Woolfe's departure, after he accused MEP Mike Hookem of punching him in Strasbourg earlier this month. Something Mr Hookem denies.

Mr Woolfe, the front-runner to replace Nigel Farage, dramatically ended his leadership campaign and resigned from the party on Monday, claiming it was 'ungovernable' without Mr Farage at the helm.

But Mr Coke said Mr Woolfe had just been trying to justify what he was doing, adding: 'When we get the right leader in a few weeks time. I think what has happened is all for the good.'

Mr Coke did not publicly state who he backed in the last leadership contest, and would not say who he would back in the latest race.

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But questioned about a future role of the millionaire UKIP backer entrepreneur Aaron Banks, an ally of Mr Woolfe, who gave £1m to the party in 2014, Mr Coke said he 'couldn't give a damn' whether Mr Banks was involved in the party or not.

He played down the financial importance of the insurance businessman who was a founder of the campaign Leave.EU - which had attempted unsuccessfully to be the official leave campaign during the European Union referendum. Mr Coke said Mr Banks had very little to do with the NEC, and he was not involved at all 'apart from sniping on the sidelines'.

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He acknowledged that events of the past few weeks had been 'very bad indeed'.

'It makes us look a shambles, but we have got to get the right leader, pick ourselves up and move forward. This has happened many times before in UKIP's past. Now we are going to shake out of some of the weaker people and move forward.'

'I think what has happened is all well and good. Ukip has a bright future. Losing some of the weaker people is always a good thing,' he added.

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