One of Boston’s county councillors who is part of a UKIP ‘breakaway’ group said the party’s leadership split is a ‘tragedy’.
Bob McAuley, who holds the Boston West county seat, is one of five UKIP county councillors to follow ousted leader Chris Pain to a breakaway ‘UKIP Lincolnshire’ group.
Coun McAuley said the matter centres on a hearing at the national party executive involving Coun Pain, which has resulted in the Wainfleet and Burgh councillor being suspended.
UKIP is now led at county level by Colin Mair and is no longer the official opposition, with ten members of the original group. Labour has 12 councillors and takes over from UKIP.
Coun McAuley added: “We felt that he had been vey badly treated and we have a loyalty to Chris as well as the party.
“To maintain that we felt that the only way forward was to sit apart from the other members.
“We still represent UKIP and still represent the constituents under the UKIP principles and that will never change.”
He said that he was not consulted before fellow UKIP members decided to take a letter to County Hall deposing Coun Pain as leader, adding: “It’s a tragedy really. It is not something we have done lightly and not something we wanted to do. We did feel that there was no choice.”
He said all the facts of the issue will come out after the national party hearing but wants to reassure voters that the group-of-six are not forming a new party – just a new group under the same party umbrella.
Coun McAuley said he could understand the concerns of voters over the leadership turmoil but stressed: “It is unfortunate. It is internal politics basically. We are still UKIP through and through and we support the policies and principles. It’s just the internal politics that need sorting out.
“Any party gets these sort of things but it is something we could do without.”
He added: “There’s no question there are issues with certain members in the group of ten that need to be addressed.
“We are still in the UKIP party, we are not setting up a new party.”