UKIP leadership frontrunner Steven Woolfe QUITS party after alleged brawl

The favourite to become the next leader of UKIP has dramatically quit the party after he was left with serious injuries after allegedly being ‘punched by a colleague’.

The UK Independence Party is currently gearing up for its second leadership election of the year, after leader Diane James stood down after 18 days.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who stood down earlier this year, is currently serving as interim leader.

Member of European Parliament Steven Woolfe had been considered the favourite to take over the party, but his future was put in doubt after a shocking incident in a UKIP meeting today which led to him being rushed to hospital with a potential brain injury.

Fellow UKIP MEP Mike Hookem denies allegations that he punched Mr Woolfe.

However, in a statement today, Woolfe quit the party, resigning the UKIP whip in the European Parliament and declaring he will serve as an independent.

In a statement, Woolfe said:  “The events at the meeting in Strasbourg led to me later being treated by doctors for two seizures, partial paralysis and loss of feeling in my face and body.

“Since then, I have spent some time considering my personal and political future.

“It is with deep sorrow and regret that I am aborting my leadership campaign and announcing my resignation from UKIP with immediate effect.

“I believe that a strong UKIP would hold this government’s feet to the fire and make sure it delivers a clean Brexit. However, I have come to the conclusion that UKIP is ungovernable without Nigel Farage leading it and the referendum cause to unite it.

“The way I was treated by members of my own party during the Summer’s leadership campaign and the events that have led up to today have all contributed to me coming to this conclusion. The party is riddled with infighting, proxy wars between rival camps and is run by an NEC that is not fit for purpose.

“Once my recovery is complete, it is my intention to sit as an independent MEP in the European Parliament. ”

Out London Assembly Member Peter Whittle last week threw his hat into the ring in a bid for the party’s leadership, while others in the running include Parliamentary spokeswoman Suzanne Evans and Breitbart journalist Raheem Kassam.

UKIP is the last major UK-wide party with anti-LGBT policy stances. Leaked internal vetting documents earlier this year showed the party had knowingly let a number of people flagged as having homophobic views stand as candidates.