UPDATE: UKIP National Executive Committee ‘no longer fit for purpose’ say members who resigned over Steven Woolfe’s leadership exclusion

Victoria Ayling, UKIP candidate for Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. EMN-160322-174313001
Victoria Ayling, UKIP candidate for Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. EMN-160322-174313001

A statement from the three UKIP members, including Lincolnshire’s Victoria Ayling, who resigned from the party’s NEC today (Wednesday) over Steven Woolfe being excluded from the leadership contest has called the committee ‘no longer fit for purpose’.

In the letter of resignation, signed by Ms Ayling, Raymond Finch MEP and Michael McGough, the trio claim they have been ‘privy to increasingly alarming behaviour’ by members of the board.

They accuse members of putting ‘personal ambitions, loyalties and jealousies at the heart of their decision making’ and accuse the committee of ‘wilfully obstructing’ Steven Woolfe’s candidacy.

The statement reads: ““Steven Woolfe is a popular candidate among UKIP’s members and should be permitted to represent those that wish to vote for him.”

“To purposefully trawl for technicalities upon which to base a decision to deny his inclusion is not in the best interests of the membership and truly injurious to UKIP.”

The document also calls for an extraordinary general meeting to ‘hold a vote of no confidence in the NEC’, saying: “We strongly believe that under the current governing structure the future security and success of UKIP is in jeapardy.”

Steven Woolfe has also responded to the decision, saying: “I am extremely disappointed by the UKIP NEC decision to exclude me from the party’s leadership election.”

He also reiterates the belief that the NEC is ‘unfit for purpose’.

Wednesday, 1.35pm - UKIP County Councillor Victoria Ayling has reportedly resigned from the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in protest at the decision to exclude Steven Woolfe from its leadership contest.

The party’s NEC announced today (Wednesday) that following their deliberations and a vote on the matter they had nominated Coun Bill Etheridge MEP, Diane James MEP, Elizabeth Jones, Jonathan Arnott MEP, Coun Lisa Duffy and Phillip Broughton to run the race.

They said: “By a clear majority of NEC members Steven Woolfe MEP’s application was considered to be ineligible as a result of a late submission and as such he did not meet the eligibility criteria. His membership of the Party was not in question.”

News sources including BBC, Sky and PA correspondents are now reporting that Victoria Ayling has resigned in protest along with fellow members Raymond Finch MEP and Michael McGough.

Ms Ayling, Lincolnshire County Councillor for Spilsby Fen who had last year run in the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner elections, had recently declared herself a strong supporter of Mr Woolfe, saying in a statement published in today’s (August 3) edition of The Standard: “The person I believe best to lead UKIP, and build on Nigel Farage’s excellent work is Steven Woolfe.

“He has a good team behind him, and has real conviction with the strength of character to fight for the country regardless of what the Pro-EU establishment throw at him.”

Ms Ayling said that she continues to believe that UKIP has an important role in ‘making sure Brexit means Brexit and that we really do leave the EU’.

She said she was concerned that there would be ‘plenty of spin’ around the invokation of article 50. which signals the UK’s official withdrawal from the European Union.

She said she was ‘alarmed about the delays’ and concerns the UK would still allow freedom of movement.

She also raised concerns that only 20 per cent of promotions by Theresa May have gone to Brexiters, ‘with an overwhelming number of Remainers awarded jobs’.

She concluded: “I will support Steven Woolfe for leader and will throw my weight behind him.”

The Standard has reached out to Ms Ayling for a comment on the latest stories, but neither she, nor the party have yet confirmed the news.