LONDON (AP) _ The U.K. Independence Party, which played a key role in Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, was in disarray Monday as its leader resisted growing calls to quit amid a scandal over his personal life.
UKIP’s executive backed a no-confidence motion in leader Henry Bolton on Sunday, but he was refusing to step down.
Several members of the UKIP leadership quit in protest, including deputy leader Margot Parker and the party’s immigration, trade and education spokesmen.
Bolton, 54, has faced growing pressure to resign since a newspaper published racist text messages sent by his girlfriend, 25-year-old model Jo Marney.
Bolton has said he ended “the romantic side” of his relationship with Marney after the Mail on Sunday newspaper published text messages to a friend in which she called black people “ugly” and said Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle would “taint” the royal family.
Parker, the former deputy leader, said Bolton’s personal life was overshadowing his job.
“It would be quicker and cleaner if he came to the conclusion he could go sooner rather than later,” she told the BBC.
If Bolton does not resign, party members will decide his fate at a meeting next month.
Under former leader Nigel Farage, the right-wing euroskeptic party was a major force behind Brexit. But it has struggled to maintain its prominence. It failed to win any seats in Parliament during last year’s election, and Bolton is its fourth leader since the June 2016 EU referendum.
Some UKIP members have suggested Farage, who led the party between 2010 and 2016, could return to the helm. Since the Brexit referendum, Farage has built up his international profile as the most prominent British supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump.