Suffolk’s UKIP group faces tough times after Stoke by-election miss

PUBLISHED: 14:00 24 February 2017

UKIP group leader Bill  Mountford.

UKIP group leader Bill Mountford.

The UKIP group on Suffolk County Council is facing testing times in the wake of the party leader’s failure to win the Stoke Central by-election.

The leader of the nine-strong group at Endeavour House, Bill Mountford, is facing an uncertain future after his local party in South Lowestoft did not re-select him to fight the seat in May’s council election.

And he was dismissive of both party leader Paul Nuttall, who finished a distant second in Stoke, and of some of the new recruits to his party: “My impression is that at the moment UKIP is a bit of an overcrowded craft occupied by political migrants.”

Mr Mountford is originally from Stoke, but was not impressed by the party campaign: “Two weeks ago Paul Nuttall had the election in the bag, but then he started behaving like a typical politician – saying things people didn’t believe and we all know what happened then, this was a very bad result.”

Although he has not been selected to fight his seat for UKIP, he is expecting to stand as an independent: “Many people in my division have come up to me and said they like what I have been doing so I’m almost certainly going to stand again.

“My group is all behind me – I remain leader of it and would like to continue to do so. I don’t know who the UKIP group will choose to fight the seat.”

On the county council UKIP has seats in Waveney, Forest Heath, Haverhill, Stowmarket and Ipswich – but they were won when the party was riding the crest of a wave in 2013.

Following the failure to win the Stoke seat, many expect UKIP support to have peaked – and both Labour and the Conservatives are hoping to pick up seats from them in Suffolk in the May 4 election.

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