North East MEP Jonathan Arnott has thrown his full support behind Paul Nuttall’s bid to lead the UK Independence Party.
Mr Nuttall, Euro MP for the North West, announced today that he is standing to be leader and Mr Arnott - who announced his own interest in standing as leader back in July, before dropping out - is among colleagues backing him.
And he has pointed out that if Mr Nuttall is elected by the membership next month, the Labour Party, particularly in the north, will face even greater problems than those currently besetting it.
“Labour’s Brendan Chilton (General Secretary of Labour Leave – and one of the Labour people to truly understand the Brexit vote) - said this morning: ‘If Paul Nuttall wins the UKIP leadership, my party, Labour, will be fighting for its life in the heartlands’.”
“He is undoubtedly correct and I feel very heartened for the future of UKIP,” said Mr Arnott.
Announcing that he is standing to be leader, Mr Nuttall explained: “Having spent six years as deputy leader and previously been chairman, I believe I am best suited to take the helm of the party when Nigel Farage, who has done a sterling job as captain, finally does get the chance to get his life back.
“I stand first and foremost as a unifying candidate, demanding an end to the infighting and squabbling which performs just one purpose - that of delighting our rivals.
“I believe UKIP can simply be much bigger and better than this – but we have to work together as a united team to do so.
“And I promise this - from day one under my leadership, there is a clean slate for UKIP MEPs, domestic politicians and members. It will in effect be Day Zero. We will pull together to fight forwards, not backwards.
“Because no matter who tries to falsely take the credit, few can argue that the historic June 23 vote to leave the European Union would simply never have happened without us.
“Although more than 17 million British citizens voted to leave the EU, only one in four of them voted for UKIP at last year’s general election. That is precisely where our opportunity lies.
“I am certain now, after achieving the Brexit decision, it is time to seize the day.
"If you’re looking for a new way of doing things, and a new way of being heard, we are that party.
“We are the voice of the common man and woman. We are the future,” said Mr Nuttall.
Mr Nuttall faces competition from Suzanne Evans and Raheem Kassam in the leadership battle.
UKIP has been plunged into turmoil since Diane James quit as leader after just 18 days in the job.
Steven Woolfe, the frontrunner to replace her, also left the party in the wake of an altercation with another party member after which he ended up in hospital.