Wales politics

UKIP 'almost unravelling' amid Gill and leadership rows

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Media captionChris Smart fears some UKIP members could return to their previous parties

UKIP members may leave the party following recent infighting, its chairman in Wales has said.

Chris Smart said there was a feeling UKIP was "almost unravelling" following rows about Wales leader Nathan Gill "double jobbing", and the leadership election to succeed Nigel Farage.

Mr Smart was speaking before Mr Gill revealed he was leaving UKIP's assembly group to sit as an independent.

Candidates will push their cases at a hustings event in Newport on Wednesday.

But one leading contender - South East England MEP Diane James - will not be taking part in the event.

UKIP members in Wales were due to vote on whether Mr Gill should be allowed to continue to serve as both an MEP and an AM.

Mr Smart, who believes Mr Gill should resign from one of the roles, said: "The infighting's not doing anyone any good at all.

Image caption Nathan Gill has been threatened with expulsion from UKIP for refusing to give up one of his two roles

"I saw some of our members who are really upset about what's going on because they joined UKIP to get out of the EU.

"Of course that's happened, and now things seem to be almost unravelling.

"Some are putting it down to Nathan Gill not doing what he pledged to do before the election.

"Many people may unfortunately leave the party - which would be a great pity - and go back to their former roots, maybe, in many cases the Conservative party, but in some cases Labour as well."

Mr Smart said he hoped the situation "can be put right" once UKIP's new leader is elected.

Mr Gill previously defended his ability to do both jobs and said he would consider court action if he was expelled from the party.

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Image caption The contenders: Elizabeth Jones, Lisa Duffy, Philip Broughton, Diane James and Bill Etheridge

Meanwhile, four of the five contenders to succeed Nigel Farage will put their cases to party members in Newport on Wednesday.

Cambridgeshire councillor Lisa Duffy, West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge, national executive committee member Elizabeth Jones, and former Conservative councillor Philip Broughton are due to attend the event.

Diane James is not taking part in the hustings, but will be in Newport for a "meet Diane" event a week on Friday.

"My stance is to give UKIP members the opportunity to focus on me, the candidate, grill me on issues that matter to them and thus examine my leadership qualities," she wrote on her website.‚Äč

Ballot papers will be sent to members on 1 September, with the result announced a fortnight later.

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