Nigel Farage fears Ukip punch-up will be bad for party’s image

MEP Steven Woolfe collapses after altercation with colleague at European Parliament

 

Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe remained in hospital on Thursday night in Strasbourg after sustaining serious injuries during an altercation at a party meeting at the European Parliament.

The MEP for North West England, who turned 49 on Thursday, collapsed just before lunchtime after being punched outside a party meeting in Strasbourg. It is believed that a fellow Ukip MEP hit Mr Woolfe, a prominent leadership contender, after both men moved outside the room.

Mr Woolfe collapsed two hours later on a walkway bridge linking the European Parliament chamber and the parliament’s many meeting rooms shortly before lunchtime. He was taken to hospital, where it was confirmed he was suffering bleeding on the brain.

‘Not good’

Nigel Farage

Mr Farage said he did not expect the matter to be referred to French police.

The Ukip MEP who is suspected to have punched Mr Woolfe was named by some sources as Mike Hookem, the party’s defence spokesman.

Mr Woolfe said in a statement that he was being kept in hospital as a precaution overnight. “The CT scan has shown that there is no blood clot in the brain. At the moment I am feeling brighter, happier and smiling as ever,” he said, adding the “only consequence at the moment is a bit of numbness on the left hand side of my face”.

He thanked the parliamentary staff, the Ukip MEPs with him and the hospital staff.

Mr Woolfe, a father of one and a qualified barrister, was elected to the European Parliament in 2014.

He is widely seen as a possible successor to Diane James, the Ukip leader, who resigned this week after 18 days in the role.

Mr Woolfe was prohibited from entering the Ukip leadership race following Mr Farage’s decision to step down as leader in the wake of the Brexit referendum in June after he missed the application deadline by 17 minutes.

Earlier this week there were reports that Mr Woolfe was considering defecting to the Conservative Party, but he confirmed on Wednesday that, despite considering the issue, he would remain with Ukip.

“I have been enthused by the start to Theresa May’s premiership,” he said, noting that her support for grammar schools, pledges to tackle social mobility and commitment 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”.

Brexit in full

Ukip topped the poll in the European Parliament elections in Britain in 2014, with 24 MEPs elected to the parliament. It has the largest representation of British MEPs in the directly elected parliament.

Members of the Ukip group had gathered in Strasbourg this week for the regular plenary session of the European Parliament, which concluded on Thursday.

Fellow Ukip MEP and leadership hopeful Raheem Kassam cancelled an appearance on the BBC’s Daily Politics following the incident, adding that he hoped Mr Woolfe was okay.

Suzanne Evans, another potential leadership candidate, tweeted: “Shocked to hear Steven Woolfe has apparently collapsed in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Wishing him well for a speedy recovery.”