Steven Woolfe, the odds-on favourite to take over the UKIP leadership from Nigel Farage, has missed the deadline to apply for the job.
It is unclear whether Woolfe, a Member of European Parliament, will be allowed to contest the leadership. Michael Crick of Channel Four News reported that Woolfe was ineligible to run in the leadership election because of the minor delay.
I have had it confirmed that Steven Woolfe has been told his nomination for Ukip leader was disqualified as it arrived beyond noon deadline
— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) July 31, 2016
According to UKIP’s official rulebook, all applications should have been submitted by 12pm on July 31st, and while Woolfe’s application was submitted at 11.35am, a spokesman for Woolfe told journalists that because of a ‘technical error’, the application did not go through until 12.17pm, seventeen minutes after the final deadline.
Steven Woolfe is backed by UKIP’s largest donor, Arron Banks, and, if elected, would be the first ethnic minority leader of a major British Party. He has served as UKIP’s migration spokesman, and is the former head of economic policy for the party.
His leadership bid has previously been called into question after it emerged that Woolfe had forgotten to renew his UKIP membership, and that it had been technically lapsed since December 2014. Woolfe renewed his membership in March 2016, but the incident caused some to question Woolfe’s competence and suitability for the role of leader.
While Woolfe is still widely expected to be on the ballot, this incident will raise further questions about whether the MEP for North West England is the right person to succeed Nigel Farage.
The final list of candidates will be announced by the UKIP’s National Executive on Tuesday, a UKIP spokesman said. The winner of the leadership election will be announced on September 15th.