Paul Sykes, the millionaire backer of UKIP, has now called on the party to make Robert Kilroy-Silk its leader, according to BBC News. The position of Roger Knapman MEP, the party's current leader, has been under constant threat since Kilroy became a candidate and leading personality in the European elections and helped deliver twelve MEPs for the party.
Kilroy claims that he already has funding to fight for a Westminster seat in the East Midlands (after party in-fighting and the suggestion that he may upstage Knapman were blamed for his failure to get the nomination for the Hartlepool by-election). Kilroy also made the assertion that the party had the funds to fight 44 key marginals at the next general election. He said: "I have personally been promised all the money I need to fight every marginal seat in the country. We have the money to set up offices, agents, campaigns when I decide to press the button" (emphasis added).
Gallery News, the internet politics press service, asked Nigel Farage MEP if this language meant that Kilroy was de facto party leader - Farage replied that "[Kilroy] has only been a member of the party for four months [...] Robert is Robert. He is who he is, what he is. It isn't a problem."
So little a problem, in fact, that UKIP was forced to release a statement backing Roger Knapman. The party's parliamentary whip, Jeffrey Titford MEP, said: "We wish to make it crystal clear that Roger Knapman is the Leader of the UK Independence Party and he still has more than two years of his period of office to run. This Party owes a great debt to Roger for the excellent Leadership he has shown in the last two years. He has led us to our greatest ever electoral success in June this year and we look forward to his continued Leadership.
“Any further press speculation is pointless and malicious. No single individual will decide who will lead this Party. We are a democratic Party and it is for the members to decide who our next Leader will be but there is no vacancy for the foreseeable future”.
However, it seems that one single individual with deep pockets will have a greater role in the decision than the other party members...
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3645020.stm; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3642104.stm; http://www.ukip.org/abc_news/gen12.php?t=1&id=981