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Contest to find new Ukip leader will not feature the man who runs Thanet council

By Paul Francis

The leader of Thanet District Council has ruled himself out of the Ukip leadership contest.

Councillor Chris Wells had been weighing up whether to stand in what will be the third leadership election for the party in a year.

However he has decided against running because he says his main priority is to continue leading what remains the only authority that the party runs.

Chris Wells
Chris Wells

The party lost its overall majority on the council after a recent by-election and faces another test next week in a further by-election for the ward of Margate Central.

In a statement, he said: "I have decided not to proceed to the next stage of the UKIP Party Leadership process. There are two main reasons behind that decision.

"Firstly, it is important that someone from the moderate wing of the party becomes our next Leader. There are already several candidates who would generally qualify for that description, and there is, therefore, a clear risk of splitting the moderate vote and permitting a hard line race based candidate to achieve undeserved success.

"Secondly, my first responsibility as the leader of UKIP's only council still requires and deserves considerable time and attention, particularly in the months between this summer and the early part of next year. It would not be sensible or feasible to divide my time efficiently between the two roles.

However, the former Ukip Kent crime commissioner candidate Henry Bolton will be on the ballot paper.

Deadlines for nominations for the role close today and it looks like there will be a shortlist of five or six candidates.

Mr Wells has indicated that he would be likely to support a moderate candidate and felt a large shortlist could split the vote and allow a more right wing candidate to win.

Mr Bolton, who is based in Folkestone, is a former serving police officer and army intelligence officer who has worked in international security in several different countries.

He was awarded the OBE for services to international security in 2013.

Henry Bolton stood for Ukip in the recent PCC elections
Henry Bolton stood for Ukip in the recent PCC elections

The party's new leader will be announced in September.

The latest contest was triggered by the resignation of former leader Paul Nuttall after the parties for performance in the general election

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