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Farage: Leadership contest would be a 'massive mistake'

Nigel Farage said he predicted an EU referendum as soon as May 2016. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Nigel Farage has said a Ukip leadership battle would be a "massive, massive mistake" and dismissed the current row within the party as "people letting off steam".

Speaking on BBC Question Time, Farage said the "level of support for me in the part is phenomenal" and claimed any change in leadership would be a bad idea with an EU referendum due, potentially as soon as May 2016 in his view.

He said he was "disappointed" that colleague and party economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn had accused him of becoming a "snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive" man, but said it was a result of the election campaign creating "a huge amount of pressure".

"I'm sure the others would agree, and we maintained discipline as a party extraordinarily well during this general election compared with the past. The election's over, people are letting off steam, and we've seen one or two people fighting personal wars against each other."

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O'Flynn 'should resign over Farage comments'

Ukip spokesman Patrick O'Flynn should resign over his "wholly unprofessional" comments about Nigel Farage, the party leader's outgoing chief of staff has said.

Raheem Kassam. Credit: PA Wire

It was confirmed today that Raheem Kassam had left his job, but Mr Farage's former adviser insisted that his contract was always due to expire at the end of May.

"I wish Nigel all the best, Nigel is clearly the best person to lead the party; he's clearly the best communicator in British politics and for Patrick O'Flynn to call him 'snarling' I think shows what sort of pedigree Patrick O'Flynn has in politics," he told Sky News.

Kassam revealed that he is returning to journalism with Breitbart London where he would "scrutinising quite heavily what the red Ukip team are trying to do with the organisation".

Farage future in doubt despite key advisers moving on

The future of Nigel Farage remains in doubt today as leading Ukip figures row over whether he is the right man to take the party forward.

Much of the argument centres around a team of advisers around the party's leader, who have moved on since the argument hit headlines.

However, as ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports, that does not appear to satisfy some in the party, who are calling for him to step aside - again.

Major Ukip donor backs Farage to remain in charge

Alan Bown handing a cheque to Ukip in 2005. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Alan Bown, a major donor who has given almost £2 million to Ukip, has backed Nigel Farage to remain as leader.

In a short statement on the party's website, Bown said had "first got involved because of Nigel", adding that the leader "speaks for ordinary people which is why four million people voted for us last week".

He has had the guts to talk openly about immigration and it's only because of Nigel that now everyone is talking about this subject.

It's the first time for a 100 years that a smaller party has broken through to get 3.8 million votes to become the third largest party and this is due to Nigel's leadership. He has my full support.

– Alan Bown, Ukip donor

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Farage adviser Kassam 'no longer working for Ukip'

Raheem Kassam, a senior adviser to Nigel Farage, is no longer working for Ukip, the party's leadership has confirmed.

Raheem Kassam (left) with Ukip leader Nigel Farage on election day. Credit: PA Wire

A Ukip spokesperson said: "Raheem Kassam no longer works for UKIP. End of."

The move comes amid a row over the party's direction, with the election campaign chief Patrick O'Flynn criticising key figures around the Ukip leader - believed to include Kassam and party secretary Matthew Richardson.

Speaking about his departure, Mr Kassam said his contract with Ukip was always due to end at the end of May.

Millionaire Ukip donor backs calls for Farage to quit

Millionaire Ukip donor Stuart Wheeler has backed calls for Nigel Farage to stand down as leader.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I would like him to step down, at least for the moment. And if he wants to put himself up in an election, then he has every right to do so,though I personally would prefer somebody else now."

Millionaire Ukip donor Stuart Wheeler said he would 'prefer somebody else now'. Credit: PA Wire

The spread betting tycoon also said "the type of campaign that's now needed has to be slightly less aggressive and more towards winning over people in the centre".

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