A UKIP councillor has hit out at councillors leaving the party, such as Stubbington’s Chris Wood, saying they should quit their seats and stand for re-election.
Hayling Island ward councillor John Perry also defended his party saying they are ‘still relevant’ and the ‘only viable opposition’ following the party hitting the headlines with it lurching from one crisis to another.
The trouble started when leader Nigel Farage quit in July, and then his successor Diane James stood down after just 18 days in the job for ‘personal and professional reasons’.
Then one of the frontrunners to replace her, Steven Woolfe MEP, was at the centre of an altercation at the European Parliament with fellow Ukip MEP Mike Hookem, which led to him also quitting the party.
And today it emerged that the party could face bankruptcy as one of its leading donors Arron Banks may withdraw his support.
Cllr Perry, who joined the party in 2010, said that Ukip still had a place in UK politics, and that it had much work to do to ensure the country exits the European Union.
He said: ‘Labour is not a viable opposition, Ukip could take its place.
‘Although we do need to regroup, yes we have had problems with the likes of Stephen Woolfe, but we will come back stronger.’
Cllr Perry stood for election on Havant Borough Council in 2012 and for Hampshire County Council in 2013.
He was elected to his seat on Havant Borough Council in 2014, and he also stood as Havant’s parliamentary candidate last year.
He said: ‘When I joined and stood for the council I signed a declaration that I would resign if I changed parties.
‘If I had left, then I would resign my seat as a point of integrity.
‘I have absolutely no plans to leave whatsoever, but I would stand down immediately if I did. And I call on Chris Wood to stand down immediately.’
Cllr Wood swapped his allegiances to the Conservative party last week, after he was elected on to Fareham Borough Council as a Ukip councillor in 2014 and also on to Hampshire County Council for the Crofton ward in 2013.
His departure has prompted criticism from within the Ukip Fareham and Gosport group, which published and circulated a cartoon depicting him as a rat leaving a sinking ship.
Speaking to The News last week, Cllr Wood said: ‘I don’t do opposition for opposition’s sake and have found fellow Conservative councillors to be conscientious, hardworking and thoroughly decent people.’
Cllr Wood is not the only Ukipper to defect to the Tories.
Councillor Patrick Bergin, who represents the Rowner and Holbrook ward on Gosport Borough Council, also denounced his affiliation from Ukip and said the party is in ‘disarray.’
However, Cllr Perry defended the party, saying they still had much to offer Britain. He also praised the work put in by Mr Farage.
He said: ‘My personal view is that much has been made of the challenges within Ukip to divert attention away from the meltdown of the Labour party.
‘They are not a credible opposition. And the Tories have been infighting over the EU for the last 25 years despite being given a clear mandate from the British public.
‘Ukip gets written off by the press and other parties, but we are the only opposition and we come back stronger each time this happens.
‘Nigel has done a good job for the past 20 years and we needed someone of his character to get the party to where it is today.’
Ukip is expected to elect a new leader by November.