UKIP leader faces make-or-break vote

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Henry Bolton says he is the right man to lead UKIP out of its current troubles

UKIP members will vote later on whether to back or sack leader Henry Bolton.

An extraordinary general meeting in Birmingham will decide the fate of the former army officer, who has been in the job for less than six months.

He has faced calls to quit since it emerged his partner Jo Marney sent racist messages about Meghan Markle.

But he has won the backing of ex-leader Nigel Farage who said “for all his faults”, removing Mr Bolton would hasten UKIP’s path to “irrelevance”.

Mr Farage has warned the party – which won 12.6% of the vote in the 2015 general election but has been in a tailspin ever since – was in danger of “collapsing” and it might be “too late to save it”.

‘Done nothing’

Mr Bolton has come out fighting on the eve of the vote, saying he is the man to “reform, professionalise and unite” UKIP.

But Paul Oakley, general secretary of UKIP, told the Today programme Mr Bolton had let the party down.

“I have no interest whatsoever in his personal life,” he said. “For me, it’s the fact that he’s done nothing as leader, he’s not making the case for Brexit.”

Mr Oakley said he was also concerned by the lack of campaigning ahead of May’s local elections.

“We’ve done nothing. Henry will be out after the local elections if he isn’t out today,” he added.

Several senior figures, including former leader Lord Pearson, have called on party officials to prepare for the future by uniting behind MEP Gerard Batten as interim leader, should Mr Bolton lose the vote.

Up to a thousand UKIP members have registered for the event.

The vote, to take place behind closed doors, will be preceded by speeches by Mr Bolton and a member of the party’s national executive committee, which expressed no confidence in him last month, triggering the ballot.

When he was elected in September in the wake of its disastrous performance in last year’s election, Mr Bolton became the party’s fourth leader in 18 months.

But his authority has steadily eroded since it emerged in December that the married father of two had left his wife and was dating UKIP activist Jo Marney, who is nearly 30 years his junior.

Soon afterwards, it emerged she had sent offensive messages about Ms Markle, Prince Harry’s fiancée, before Ms Marney’s relationship with Mr Bolton began.

In the messages, for which she has since apologised, she said black people were ugly and suggested the American actress, who is of African-American and white heritage, would “taint” the Royal Family.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Nigel Farage has thrown his weight behind Mr Bolton

Mr Bolton condemned the remarks as absolutely unacceptable and indicated the “romantic” element of their relationship was over.

However, the two have remained close since and he has said he is committed to helping Ms Marney – who remains suspended from the party pending an investigation but has continued to express her support for him on social media – through a turbulent period in her life.

His handling of the episode has been widely criticised.

‘Self-destruction’

A number of key figures have resigned from the front bench but Mr Bolton has insisted he can turn the party around and this week he published plans to draw up a new constitution and effectively axe the current NEC.

He received a major boost ahead of the vote when he got the backing of Nigel Farage, who remains an influential and respected figure in the party.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Farage said the party was in chaos with scores of local councillors jumping ship ahead of May’s elections and local structures “disappearing”.

“I believe it would be better to allow Mr Bolton, with all his faults, the chance to turn UKIP into an electoral machine again,” he wrote.

“The alternative is for the party to carry on down the path of self-destruction into irrelevance. It may be too late to save UKIP but you never know.”

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5 things for September 7: Irma, Trump, Russia, Australia vote, Michael Bennett

(CNN)After recent deadly collisions, there are new concerns over the readiness of the US Pacific fleet. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

Historic. Unprecedented. Devastating. No word seems strong enough to convey the damage that Irma has brought to the Caribbean. So far, the hurricane has killed nine people. About 95% of buildings on Barbuda are damaged. More than a million people don’t have power in Puerto Rico. And there are still millions in this monster storm’s path.
    We still don’t know if Irma will hit the US, but people are getting out of the way. In Florida, there’s gridlock on the roads as people evacuate. Governors in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia have declared states of emergency.
    And Irma, one of the strongest storms ever seen in the Atlantic, isn’t alone out there. There are two other hurricanes — Jose, out in the open Atlantic, and Katia, in the southern Gulf of Mexico. It’s the first time since 2010 there have been three active hurricanes at the same time in the Atlantic Ocean. And we’re only about halfway through the season.

      Airplane races Irma to evacuate passengers

    2. President Trump

    Donald Trump likes to brag about making deals — and being unpredictable. This time, it bit his own party. The President cut a deal — with Democrats! — to ensure passage of Hurricane Harvey disaster relief funding. The deal also raises the debt ceiling (but for only three months) and keeps the government funded through December. GOP leaders were “shell-shocked” by it because it puts Republicans in a tough spot. They don’t want to raise the debt ceiling without getting cuts in government spending in return, but would they dare torpedo disaster relief for Harvey’s victims to make that point?
    So why did Trump do this? One, he wanted a win on something, and two, he wanted to get these items out of the way so Congress will have time to take up tax reform before the year ends. But one GOP Senate aide told CNN that what Trump did actually killed any hope of advancing his agenda this year.

      GOP official: Trump-Dems deal blindsided GOPers

    3. Russia probe

    Now, Facebook has been dragged into the Russia mess. The social media giant told congressional investigators it sold $100,000 in political ads during the presidential election to a so-called Russian troll farm that wanted to target US voters. The ads, Facebook’s chief security officer says, were meant to sow discord among American voters by pumping up “divisive social and political messages.” The use of social media to spread fake news and misinformation is a key part of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the US election.

      Facebook sold ads to Russian ‘troll farm’

    4. Same-sex marriage

    Australia is going to hold a national vote on same-sex marriage. It will be a mail-in vote, and ballots will be sent to Australians starting next week. Voters have until November 7 to mail in their votes, and the final result will be revealed on November 15 — but it won’t be binding. Though a recent poll showed 63% of Australians supported same-sex marriage, domestic politics has stood in the way of making it legal. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he will introduce legislation to do just that if same-sex marriage is approved by voters, prompting several conservative politicians to promise to oppose it.

    5. Michael Bennett

    He won’t stand for the national anthem before NFL games, and now football star Michael Bennett accuses the Las Vegas police of racially profiling him. Bennett, a defensive end with the Seattle Seahawks, said the cops put a gun near his head before handcuffing him after gunshots were heard following last month’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight. Bennett says he was detained simply because he was black and in the area of the shooting, but Las Vegas police said race had nothing to do with it and that the officers had genuinely believed Bennett may have been involved in the shooting.

      NFLer: I’ll protest anthem until we’re equal

    BREAKFAST BROWSE

    People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.
    Pass the Bordeaux
    Richard Branson rode out Hurricane Irma in style — on his own private island, in a wine cellar, playing games — because that’s how billionaires roll.
    Rap the vote
    Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play and rap stars moderate forums for mayoral candidates.
    Hey, ladies
    For the first time in more than three decades, the semifinals of the women’s US Open will be an all-American affair.
    Makes you want to scream
    The King of Pop is gone, but his music lives on. A new Michael Jackson album is due out in time for Halloween.
    Doughnuts and subs don’t mix?
    A NASCAR driver reportedly lost his sponsorship with Subway after he handed out Dunkin’ Donuts to race fans.

    QUOTE OF THE DAY

    “I’m a very good diaper guy, which I didn’t know I would be”
    Actor and director George Clooney, on what it’s like to be a father

      George and Amal Clooney welcome twins

    NUMBER OF THE DAY

    200
    The number of Gap and Banana Republic stores that are closing

    AND FINALLY …

    Cat vs. spider
    Another day, another cat video. This time Snowflake the Persian cat freaks out over a very real-looking robot spider. (And who wouldn’t?) (Click to view)

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