Etheridge pulls out of UKIP leadership race

UKIP MEP and Sedgley councillor, Bill Etheridge, has pulled out of his parties leadership campaign in a bid to unite the party.

Mr Etheridge claimed the front-runners to lead Ukip, Sharia Watch director Ann Marie Waters and London Assembly member Peter Whittle, were threatening to take the party in a "very dark" direction.

In a statement to party members and the media, Mr Etheridge, a West Midlands MEP since 2014, also called on Nigel Farage to make clear which leadership candidate had his support.

Pledging to quit UKIP and serve as an independent MEP if Ms Waters or Mr Whittle succeeds Paul Nuttall, Mr Etheridge said elements within the party were "obsessed" with Islam. He told a press conference at Wolves' Molineux stadium that UKIP's leadership contest now had "more runners than the Grand National" - offering a better chance of success to fringe candidates.

In a direct appeal to Mr Farage, Mr Etheridge insisted he should state who he wanted to see heading the party. He said

"Nigel is the man who, more than anyone, made this party grow. But he is silent - he needs to speak. The members need to know what Nigel thinks, we need to hear his voice."

He also warned that party finances were "in a spot" and that the forthcoming leadership race was "either the end or the beginning" for UKIP.


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