North West MEP and ex-Ukip leader Nuttall quits party
North West European representative and former leader of Ukip Paul Nuttall has announced he is quitting the party.
Mr Nuttall released a statement bringing to an end his 14-year association with the Eurosceptic party.
He says his departure is due to the direction taken under current leader Gerard Batten, including bringing controversial far-right figure Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League (EDL), into the fold.
Mr Nuttall's statement read: "After much soul-searching over the past week, I have concluded that I must, as of today, resign as a member of UKIP. I do this with an immense amount of reluctance and regret, as I have worked tirelessly for the party for the past 14 years.
"I am resigning because the party is being taken in a direction which I believe is harmful to Brexit. The association with Tommy Robinson will simply appal many moderate Brexit voters and inevitably be detrimental to the cause.
"The Tommy Robinson issue should have been shelved and debated within the party following Brexit; in line with the sensible decision taken by the National Executive Committee last month. The party leadership and my MEP colleagues have been aware of my views on this issue for some time.
"Putting Tommy Robinson front and centre, while Brexit is in the process of being betrayed is, in my view, a catastrophic error. To conflate Brexit and Robinson at this crucial moment is to put the Eurosceptic cause in danger and I cannot and will not be party to that.
"I will continue to serve the North West of England in the European Parliament until my term expires.