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Saturday, 22 January, 2000, 21:56 GMT
UKIP votes leaders out

Strasbourg The UKIP has three MEPs


The future of the UK Independence Party has been cast into uncertainty after members voted to oust its leader and national executive committee.

There were stormy scenes at an emergency meeting of 1,000 of the fringe party's members, held following a vote of no confidence in the NEC at the party's conference last October.

Rival factions within the Euro-sceptic party, which has three MEPs in Strasbourg, gathered at the meeting in central London to thrash out growing rifts.

But, following the vote, some members were that predicting the party may never recover.

'Unconstitutional'

After success in last June's European elections, the UKIP has been beset by splits between groups supporting leader Michael Holmes and chairman Nigel Farage - both MEPs.

Arguments centre on the MEPs' attendance record at Strasbourg, alleged unconstitutional behaviour by Mr Holmes and claims that his supporters had persuaded BBC's Question Time not to allow Mr Farage to take part in a TV debate on Europe.


Nigel Farage Nigel Farage: Rift with leader
A vote of no confidence in Mr Holmes' leadership was passed by 569-250 and plans were drawn up for new leadership elections.

But some party members said that they had been disillusioned by in-fighting at vote, which was chaired by former Guinness Book of Records editor Norris McWhirter.

Member Janet Guzman said that without Mr Holmes at the helm, the party might not survive.

But party secretary Tony Scholefield said: "The majority of people there simply wanted to have a fresh start and an end to the in-fighting, without recriminations."

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See also:
06 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Fowler warns of Tory 'political suicide'
01 Oct 99 |  UK Politics
Eurosceptics pledge 400 poll candidates
19 Jul 99 |  UK Politics
What next for the UKIP?
09 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Tory Euro-sceptic considers defection

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