UKIP has announced it is losing another senior official – just days before a key vote which could see its leader booted out by members.
Paul Oakden, who has been chairman of UKIP since 2016, will step down from his role after the extraordinary general meeting which will determine Henry Bolton’s future on Saturday.
A senior party member told Sky News that his contract expired at the end of January and Mr Oakden decided not to renew it, because it was “time to move on”.
The source said Mr Oakden told the party’s leadership of his intentions to quit 10 days before an email was sent in which he was inadvertently referred to as UKIP’s “interim leader”.
He was forced to clarify there “hadn’t been a coup”.
A few hours later he sent another email to members announcing his intention to stand down, denying he was trying to influence the no confidence vote.
He wrote: “I remain a committed member of UKIP, and steadfast in my view that without us, there is little hope of our country’s independence being delivered back into the hands of her people.
“In standing down, I hope to allow myself the flexibility to consider other ways in which I might continue to serve you – the most remarkable, and admirable, political membership in Britain today.”
It follows the resignation of UKIP’s long standing and well respected head of media, Gawain Towler.
Mr Bolton is under pressure after refusing to stand down, despite a number of resignations from the party’s national executive committee following his response to racist and inflammatory messages by former girlfriend Jo Marney.
UKIP’s general secretary Paul Oakley he was “genuinely sorry” to see Mr Oakden leave.
“I’ve got a lot of time for him,” he told Sky News.
“He worked incredibly hard and took a lot of flak during his time as chairman.”