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Thanet District Council chief Chris Wells pulls out of Ukip leadership race

PUBLISHED: 10:49 28 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:52 28 July 2017

Chris Wells, leader of Thanet District Council

Chris Wells, leader of Thanet District Council

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The party’s candidate for Kent police and crime commissioner in 2016, Henry Bolton, has thrown his hat into the ring

Chris Wells has pulled out of the race to become the next Ukip chief, insisting “it would not be sensible” to divide time between the role and his position as leader of Thanet District Council.

Nigel Farage announced he would not be vying for the spot once again - for now at least - after Paul Nuttall stepped down following a disastrous campaign for the party in the general election in which it failed to win a single seat, and an equally bad Kent County Council election, in which its representation at County Hall was completely wiped out.

Cllr Wells told us earlier this month he was considering launching a challenge himself but admitted it would be difficult to commit to the party’s ‘rebrand’ when he is yet to see the plans himself.

Citing two reasons for his decision not to proceed, he said this week: “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 district 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 party’s candidate in last year’s Kent police and crime commissioner election, Henry Bolton, is set to stand, as he suggested to Kent News a fortnight ago.

He is likely to come up against deputy leader Peter Whittle, Scottish leader David Coburn, MEP Jane Collins, London Assembly member David Kurten, Sharia Watch director Ann Marie Waters, former Ukip councillor Ben Walker and direct democracy activist John Rees-Evans, who came third in the last contest.

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