The latest Ukip leadership contest to succeed Diane James has descended into chaos after Steven Woolfe was rushed to hospital. The Ukip MEP — and leadership hopeful — is reported to have regained consciousness after an incident in European Parliament this morning.
In a statement at lunchtime, the party claimed Woolfe had been ‘taken suddenly ill in the European parliament building in Strasbourg this morning’. But was this an entirely honest version of events? Details have since emerged that suggest Woolfe was actually taken to hospital after he was punched by a party colleague — alleged to be the party’s defence spokesman Mike Hookem — at a Ukip meeting.
The Telegraph reports that following the blow to the head, Woolfe fell into glass and was sent to hospital suffering bleeding of the brain. A source claims Woolfe said he had ‘lost the feeling down one side of his body’ before losing consciousness. However Woolfe is now ‘conscious and recovering’. In a statement, the leadership hopeful said that after the CT scan showed there is no blood clot in his brain, he is feeling ‘brighter, happier, and smiling as ever’.
On Wednesday, Woolfe announced that he would run again for leader — after being ruled ineligible the last time around. However, many of Woolfe’s colleagues were later put out to discover that he had considered defecting to the Tories just last week. Explaining his decision to stick with Ukip, Woolfe said that ‘only a strong Ukip can guarantee Brexit is delivered in full’ and ‘stand up for the communities of the Midlands and the north’.
It appears any such ill feeling has — belatedly — been put aside for the day. Figures from across the party have taken to the internet to wish Woolfe a speedy recovery — with Raheem Kassam, a former aide to Farage who announced his own leadership bid this morning, cancelling scheduled media appearances. However, Neil Hamilton is yet to show such tact. Hamilton — the leader of the Ukip party in the Welsh Assembly — has given an interview to the BBC in which he suggests that Woolfe ‘picked a fight’ with one of his fellow Ukip MEPs and ‘came off worst’.