UKIP’s Suzanne Evans facing the sack after Farage comments
UKIP’s most senior woman is facing the sack after she told the BBC’s Daily Politics party leader Nigel Farage was perceived as “very divisive”.
Deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans has been dropped as a party spokesman and officials in the party have been told to have no further contact with her.
The instructions are contained in an internal party email seen by the BBC.
Ms Evans had been speaking about what role Mr Farage might play in the EU referendum campaign.
“I think Nigel is a very divisive character in terms of the way he is perceived,” she said.
“He is not divisive as a person but the way he is perceived in having strong views that divide people.”
She went on to say that she thought “somebody else” would front the out campaign in the in/out referendum, promised by 2017, but that Mr Farage should play a “significant part”.
Mr Farage was “very angry” after he heard the comments, the BBC understands.
And in the internal UKIP email, press officers have been ordered to sever contact with Ms Evans.
The email also instructs them to refuse any media interview requests for her and says “she is not to be offered as an official UKIP spokesman”.
It ends saying, bluntly, that “no one is to brief SE or advise her on any issue.”
As deputy chairman she was in charge of writing UKIP’s manifesto in the general election and was a prominent figure during the campaign.
When Mr Farage said he was resigning as leader after he failed to become an MP he anointed her as his successor, saying she had “emerged as an absolute tower of strength”.
A senior party figure has told me her comments were “ludicrous” and “crazy” and that Mr Farage believes it was a coded attack on him.
The same figure also said he believes Ms Evans’s position as deputy chairman is “increasingly untenable”.
Ms Evans left her role as policy chief last month after a week of very public infighting kicked off by a personal attack on the leader from the party’s economy spokesman Patrick O’Flynn.
He said Nigel Farage had become “snarling and aggressive”.
Ms Evans spoke up in his defence, saying he was brave. She also called for several advisers around Mr Farage to resign.
Two advisers – Raheem Kassam and Matt Richardson – subsequently left their roles, although Mr Richardson has now returned as party secretary.
Ms Evans was unaware of the development when contacted by the BBC. She did not want to comment.