By Molly Ambler
UKIP has been placed into the lime light again with the recent altercation between MEP Steven Woolfe and the party’s Defence Spokesman Mike Hookam.
They had attended a party meeting to discuss the leadership crisis, where interim leader Nigel Farage was present. The event came just days after the UKIP leader, Diane James resigned.
This meeting, however, went beyond the usual discussion and debate that political life entails. The discussion began to get heated and sources suggest that Mr Woolfe took off his jacket and suggested he and Mr Hookam should take the matter outside. The apparent brawl left Mr Woolfe in hospital shortly after the vote in the European Parliament.
Mr Hookam denies punching or pushing Mr Woolfe, insisting he “fell over his own feet.” The cause of this altercation may have been due to Mr Woolfe’s talks with the Conservative party, it has been reported that senior Tories were under the impression Mr Woolfe was about to jump ship before the resignation of James.
In a statement, Mr Woolfe said “I have been enthused by the start to Theresa May’s premiership. Her support of new grammar schools, her words on social mobility and the growing evidence that she is committed to a clean Brexit prompted me, as it did many of my friends and colleagues, to wonder whether our future was within her new Conservative party.”
However, in his view it is “only a strong UKIP that can guarantee Brexit is delivered in full.” Many commentators have suggested that this could be main factor behind the pair’s disagreement.
Mr Hookam continues to deny his role in the altercation and has recently called Mr Woolfe’s collapse “pure Hollywood”. Hookam has also threatened legal action over claims that he hit him.
Mr Woolfe is maintaining his position and pledge commission an independent report to prove his injuries were the result of a punch. UKIP are also investigating the incident.
Mr Farage reacted to the altercation saying the incident did not make UKIP “look good”, describing it as something seen in “Third World Parliaments.” Farage went on to say that he didn’t want to play “the name game” but had suspicions as to who was responsible.
There has been a mixed response from other UKIP members with prominent UKIP donor Arron Banks expressing “utter digust” at the comments made by Welsh UKIP leader Neil Hamilton. Hamilton suggested that Mr Woolfe has “picked a fight and came off worst.”
Both Mr Woolfe and Mr Hookam face suspension and a cut in daily expenses from the European Parliament. The punishment could last ten days and cost both MEP’s €3,040 in lost claims.
President Schulz, who has clashed with UKIP MEP’s before, has ordered the Parliament’s advisory committee for code of conduct to investigate the brawl. After this report, President Schulz will determine the punishment, which can range from a verbal or written warning, cuts to expenses, or even removal from the European Parliament. This altercation could certainly prove very costly to both UKIP MEPs.