UK Politics

Kerry Smith quits UKIP over 'internal backstabbers'

Kerry Smith Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Smith stood for UKIP in the Basildon seat in 2010, where he came fourth

Kerry Smith has resigned from UKIP after being forced to quit as a prospective parliamentary candidate.

Mr Smith, who will now sit as an independent councillor, said he was "sick of internal backstabbers who hold minor roles in the party".

He had been selected to fight the South Basildon and East Thurrock seat after ex-Tory MP Neil Hamilton pulled out.

But he had to resign after apologising for offensive remarks he made in a phone call.

Mr Smith said he supported the "general goals" of UKIP, but added that he needed to "walk away" and "get my life back".

Mr Smith is a councillor on both Essex County Council and Basildon District Council.

Negative headlines

UKIP hopes to make a serious challenge for the South Basildon and East Thurrock seat in the forthcoming general election, in which it is seeking to win a handful of seats and potentially hold the balance of power.

But Mr Smith's resignation, four days after he was re-adopted as a candidate, capped a week of negative headlines for the party.

Mr Hamilton pulled out of contention for the seat amid questions raised by the party over his expenses while another candidate, Natasha Bolter, withdrew amid an investigation into allegations she made against Roger Bird, whose job is to vet election candidates. Mr Bird denies the allegations.

In a recording obtained by the Mail On Sunday, Mr Smith made offensive remarks about gay people, other UKIP members and Chigwell in Essex.

'Real issues'

Following his resignation on Sunday, Mr Smith said in a statement: "I want the best for South Basildon and Thurrock and I want to see the real issues discussed that touch the lives of people.

"Therefore I have chosen to resign so that UKIP can win this seat next May."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Mr Smith resigned "by mutual consent", and described his behaviour as "loutish and wholly inappropriate".

He said UKIP had had "great difficulty" with the Basildon selection, adding: "The party has got to grip this and sort it out, in short order".

Mr Farage also said UKIP's national executive committee had the power to impose a candidate if it wanted.

Mr Smith stood for UKIP in the Basildon seat in 2010, where he came fourth behind the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems.

But the party now regards the seat as one that it could possibly win and the selection process is now likely to be re-opened.

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