FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) — A U.K. Independence Party member of the European Parliament is quitting his party.
In an interview with BBC, Steven Woolfe said he believed there was “something rotten” in UKIP, and the party was in a “death spiral.”
Woolfe had been running to be the party’s new leader, but he decided to quit after spending three nights in a hospital earlier this month because of what he called an “altercation” with fellow MEP Mike Hookem.
According to Woolfe in the BBC interview, he and Hookem were clashing during UKIP’s meeting in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and he told the MEP, “Let’s go outside and discuss this man-to-man.”
The former party leader frontrunner said Hookem then “rushed” at him and “a blow to [his] face forced [him] back through the door.”
“I couldn’t see whether it was a fist, whether it was an open hand… the point was it was a blow that impacted me,” Woolfe told BBC.
Hookem has denied his claims.
“When I walked in he approached me to attack me,” he said after the incident according to BBC. “He came at me, I defended myself. There were no punches thrown, there was no face slapping, there were no digs, there was nothing.”
In a statement on his website, Woolfe said he will sit as an independent MEP in the European Parliament.
“With regards to the highly regrettable events in Strasbourg, I will reiterate my position that I received a blow from Mr Hookem that knocked me back into the meeting room and caused my subsequent injuries,” he added in the statement. “Contrary to reports, I have made a police complaint.”
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