Patrick O’Flynn quits as Ukip spokesman while attacking party's ‘Thatcherite’ direction
A top Ukip MEP has quit his key role because of the "Thatcherite" direction the party is heading in.
Patrick O'Flynn is standing down as economics spokesman of Ukip for the second time.
The former journalist said his position had become untenable because all of the candidates vying to be the next Ukip leader disagree with his approach.
In a blog on his website, O'Flynn said he has always argued for Ukip to be "at the common sense centre of politics" rather than on the right-wing.
He said: "It is clear to me that UKIP’s activist base wishes to go in a more libertarian, shrink-the-state and Thatcherite direction when it comes to economic policy.
“Every leadership candidate I have heard appears to disagree with me about our economic approach. So rather than hanging around to obstruct a new leader, I have decided to make way now.
“I will concentrate instead on campaigning for the best possible Brexit during my remaining time as an MEP.
“I do feel it is a regrettable that the more centrist approach argued for by the likes of me and Suzanne Evans is falling by the wayside in UKIP. But I also acknowledge that shrink-the-state libertarianism is more deeply embedded within the DNA of the party than I had appreciated."
Evans herself rued the loss of her ally from the senior post, tweeting:
The leadership election was triggered after leader Paul Nuttall quit following a year in which Ukip support plummeted.
Candidates who have declared they will be standing include John Rees-Evans - who last year drew criticism after he claimed a homosexual donkey raped his horse - and Mike Hookem who allegedly punched fellow MEP Steven Woolfe.