Published: 11:55, 22 August 2017
The odds on former Kent crime commissioner candidate Henry Bolton becoming the next leader of Ukip have shortened after a rival dropped out of the race.
Mr Bolton has been endorsed by David Allen, who had been one of eleven candidates vying for the job of succeeding out-going leader Paul Nuttall.
He has announced that he is backing Mr Bolton, who is being seen in some quarters as a possible consensus candidate amid concerns that the party could end up being led by Anne Marie Waters.
She is an “anti-Islam” campaigner who founded the Sharia Watch pressure group.
Mr Allen, who was UKIP candidate in Rochester and Strood at the general election and also stood in the KCC election, said: “Henry Bolton is head and shoulders above any of the remaining candidates with his integrity, experience and intellectual depth.”
“It is becoming clear that I cannot win and I expect some others to make similar decisions over the next few weeks.”
There was further good news for Mr Bolton when the Ukip MEP Jim Carver, who represents the West Midlands region, swung behind his campaign.
Bookmakers have put Folkestone-based Mr Bolton, a former soldier and policeman, at 12-1 to win the contest - odds that still make him an outside bet.
Speaking at the launch of his campaign in Dover a fortnight ago, he outlined his concerns over FGM, a procedure where the genitals of young girls are deliberately cut, injured or changed for cultural, religious and social reasons.
He said: “It is abhorrent and not only that it’s illegal.”
Nigel Farage has warned that Ukip will be “finished” if it places Islam at the heart of its agenda.
Voting in the leadership contest gets under way on September 1 and the result will be announced on September 29.