Peter Whittle drops out of UKIP leadership race
Gay UKIP politician Peter Whittle has dropped out of the race 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 had declared, including MEP Paul Nuttall, Parliamentary spokesperson Suzanne Evans, London Assembly Member Peter Whittle, and ‘gay donkey raped my horse’ candidate John Rees-Evans.
One of the party’s most senior gay figures, 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.
Mr Whittle today dropped out of the race.
He said: “In the month since I declared my intention to stand for the leadership of UKIP I have been hugely encouraged by the goodwill, desire for unity and sheer commitment of our members up and down the country.
“We have been through a difficult few weeks. We have been here before, but have gone on to survive and prosper. We will do so again. I am convinced that having had the historical success of the referendum, our party is on the threshold of a new era.
“Furthermore, yesterday’s High Court ruling also suggests that the battle to ensure that the Leave vote in the referendum is respected is far from over and UKIP is needed more than ever.
“To meet the new challenges which the future holds, UKIP needs a leader who knows the party inside out and who can command the loyalty of members across the board.
“So after a great deal of thought, I have decided to withdraw from the leadership contest and recommend wholeheartedly that members vote for Paul Nuttall.
“I would like to thank those members and supporters who planned to support me, but I have become convinced that the sheer breadth of Paul’s political experience, his dedication to the values of the party and the obvious affection in which he is held by members make him the person who is best placed to take us forward.”
One of the remaining three leadership candidates, Jonathan Rees-Evans, recently insisted that it is “entirely acceptable” to hold anti-gay views and stand as a UKIP candidate.