Neil Hamilton to try to win back UKIP Assembly leadership

Credit: PA, Ben Birchall

The ousted leader of UKIP in the Assembly has confirmed that he will try to reclaim the leadership during a Wales-wide ballot of party members.

Neil Hamilton, who remains in post as leader of the party in Wales, was replaced as group leader by fellow AM Caroline Jones after what was described as 'a democratic vote' of the group's five AMs. You can read more details of the coup here.

UKIP AMs haven't really settled down since then. One said to me that they were like 'rats in a sack.'

Even so, they were taken by surprise at a tense meeting Monday night when the party's UK deputy leader, Mike Hookem, informed them that there would be a national ballot to decide the group leadership.

In an interview with me Neil Hamilton confirmed that he would stand and said he hoped the ballot would put an end to the infighting which he acknowledged has left the party open to ridicule. You can watch the full interview above.

There was no similar ballot when he took the rôle from his predecessor Nathan Gill, but he told me that that was because they'd only just been elected and were in the middle of campaigning in the EU referendum.

'It wasn't possible to organise one,' he told me. 'If we had been able to then I think that would have been better. No doubt we'll correct that deficiency.'

In the interview, Neil Hamilton also welcomes the disciplinary action being taken against Mandy Jones who sits as an Independent AM and isn't part of the group, but who had continued as a UKIP party member.

She's been suspended and a disciplinary process launched after she objected to Neil Hamilton's nomination as the party's Assembly Commissioner. More details here.

He told me that it's 'irrelevant' that Mandy Jones isn't a group member:

Last night a spokesperson for Mandy Jones said the Independent AM had 'no regrets' about her criticism of Neil Hamilton.