Gay UKIP candidate Peter Whittle has thrown his hat into the ring to lead the party.

The Brexit-backing UK Independence Party is holding its second leadership election of the year, following the resignations of Nigel Farage and short-lived leader Diane James.

A number of candidates have put themselves forward, including including MEPs Steven Woole and Bill Etheridge and right-wing journalist Raheem Kassam.

However the race was blown wide open when a violent incident involving frontrunner Mr Woofle left him facing investigation and potential expulsion from the race.

Today, one of the party’s most senior gay figures, London Assembly Member Peter Whittle, has thrown his hat into the ring.

Mr Whittle was the party’s candidate for Mayor of London earlier this year, but slumped to a fifth-place finish behind Labour, the Conservatives, the Greens and the Lib Dems.

However, he is confident that he can bring the party back from the brink of fracturing.

He said: “Today I am pleased to announce my intention to stand for the position of UKIP Leader in the forthcoming election.

“As the Leader of UKIP’s Group on the London Assembly, the Party’s former London Mayoral candidate and having served as a Party Spokesman for three years I would now consider it an honour and privilege to lead UKIP, a Party that is setting the agenda for British politics.

“Certainly we are facing challenges at the moment but these are dwarfed by the great opportunities in front of us. I am confident that not only will I be able to stabilise the Party but can take it on to even greater heights.

“I believe UKIP has a crucial role to ensure what was voted for on June 23rd is delivered by the Government. But it also has a duty to speak for those that the other parties, most notably the Labour Party, do not.

“Over the next few days and weeks I look forward to outlining in more detail what my prospectus for UKIP voters in this leadership election will be, but also what my policy platform for the Party would look like if I were successfully elected Leader.”

If elected, he would be the first openly gay leader of a UK-wide party. There are already several out political leaders in Scotland.