Suzanne Evans axed by Nigel Farage in surprise UKIP reshuffle ahead of EU referendum

Former Merton councillor Suzanne Evans was axed from her position as UKIP deputy chairman by party leader Nigel Farage today.

The reshuffle means Ms Evans, a prominent voice and now former national spokeswoman for the party, will set her sights on another role.

She is standing as a candidate for the London Assembly this spring, having been ranked third on the list by the party’s selection process.

She said: “I’m naturally disappointed and felt I was doing a good job helping to broaden the party’s appeal, both in relation to the EU referendum and the upcoming electoral challenges of May 5 and beyond.

“I certainly have no intention of being drawn into any disharmony, and I of course accept that it is entirely within any party leader’s authority to choose and to change their own top team.”

She explained she was willing to share a platform with Nigel Farage and intended to knock speculation on the head going forward.

As Ms Evans and Neil Hamilton are candidates for local elections, if they were to stay chairs they would be restricted by election rules in how much they could speak to the national media in the run up to the EU referendum.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “We have an important set of elections on May 5 in which UKIP can make some significant breakthroughs.

“But at the same time we have to fight a referendum campaign and our frontline spokesmen need to be free to comment and campaign on the main issues.

“Accordingly I have made some changes to our structure today.”

A media favourite, Ms Evans’ dismissal could prove problematic for the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign in the upcoming EU referendum.

The anti-EU campaigners, who had been struggling to find a figurehead before Mayor of London Boris Johnson pledged his support this weekend, will now be under pressure without Ms Evans’ positional backing.

They had been broadcasting her role as UKIP deputy chair as their ‘cross party’ link, and are now backed by just one MP, one MEP and one member of the National Executive Committee.

Diane James and William Dartmouth are to replace Suzanne Evans and Mr Hamilton as deputy chairs.

Image courtesy of the BBC via YouTube, with thanks

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