UKIP MEP O’Flynn quits role after Farage attack


A UKIP MEP who launched a personal attack on Nigel Farage in the aftermath of the election has stood down from his frontbench role in the party.

Patrick O’Flynn has stepped down as economics spokesman and apologised to Mr Farage for calling him “snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive”.

The comments triggered a bout of bitter infighting within UKIP.

Mr Farage said he had been “appalled” by the remarks but it took a “big man” to apologise and the row was now over.

Mr Farage says he has the overwhelming support of the party to stay on as leader in the aftermath of a fierce post-election row which led to two of his senior aides quitting the party and question marks over the party’s future direction.

‘Sincere regret’

Mr O’Flynn, a former Daily Express political journalist who was UKIP’s chief spokesman during the campaign, provoked the row after telling The Times Mr Farage risked turning the party – which won only one seat despite getting four million votes – into a “personality cult” and an “absolutist monarchy”.

The comments highlighted a divide within UKIP over Mr Farage’s decision to remain as party leader following his failure to get elected as an MP in Thanet South.

The UKIP leader said before the election that he would quit if he failed to make it to Westminster but changed his mind after the party’s ruling body urged him to stay, claiming the election had been a big success for the party.

In his resignation statement, Mr O’Flynn said: “I would like to express to colleagues my sincere regret at going public with my frustrations about the turn of events following polling day.”

The MEP for the East of England said his comments about Mr Farage had been a “fragment of wider passage” but added: “I should have known better than anyone what use would be made of phrases that were both unfair and unkind.”

Mr O’Flynn added that he wanted to spend the coming months helping UKIP’s campaign for the UK to quit the EU.

‘Line drawn’

In response, Mr Farage told the BBC that he had “drawn a line” under the episode and suggested the party had “never been more united”.

“I was initially appalled,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. We had a conversation this morning and as we spoke the tone got gentler. I understood he made a bad mistake, he understood he made a bad mistake and we move on from here.

“Bad things have been said but we now have drawn a line on this and it’s all behind us.

“I think UKIP has never been more united around me.”

But BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said Mr O’Flynn’s resignation suggested that “UKIP’s travails and turmoil” in the wake of the election were continuing.

“I sense the uneasiness in UKIP ranks is far from over,” he added.

Mr Farage has insisted he has the backing of nearly everyone in the party to stay on as leader in the run-up to the referendum on the UK’s future in the EU, due to take place by the end of 2017.

Senior figures such as Douglas Carswell, Paul Nuttall and Steven Woolfe have backed him but urged him to take a “short break” from politics over the summer.

Deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans said she was sorry about Mr O’Flynn’s decision to stand down.

“Patrick is one of UKIP’s hardest working MEPs,” he said. “He has been an excellent economics spokesman and made valuable and professional contributions to our manifesto and our general election campaign.”

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