UKIP members have voted to sack leader Henry Bolton after controversy over racist messages sent by his partner.
The former army officer’s fate was decided after 63% voted to back a no confidence motion at an extraordinary general meeting in Birmingham.
He had faced calls to quit after it emerged his partner Jo Marney sent racist messages about Meghan Markle.
Gerard Batten will take over as interim leader and there will be a leadership election within 90 days.
Following the vote, Mr Bolton, who had been in the job for less than six months, said he had “not finished in politics yet”.
He told Sky News: “I’ve just spoken to my team, we’ve had a quick batting around of the different options and we’ll continue doing that over the next few days.”
He was elected in September in the wake of UKIP’s disastrous performance in last year’s general election.
The party’s national executive committee expressed no confidence in him last month, triggering the ballot.
Outgoing chairman Paul Oakden said: “Henry Bolton has been removed by the democratic decision of the membership”.
Mr Bolton, who lost the no confidence motion by 867 votes to 500, was the party’s fourth leader in 18 months.
He had replaced Paul Nuttall, who quit after the general election – which saw UKIP’s vote share shrink to 1.8% from 12.6% in 2015.
UKIP’s leadership changes
- Nigel Farage: UKIP’s long-serving leader announced his resignation on 4 July 2016, saying his “political ambition has been achieved” by the Brexit vote
- Diane James: Lasted less than three weeks after being elected in September 2016
- Nigel Farage: Returned as interim leader in October 2016
- Paul Nuttall: Elected on 28 November 2016, but quit the following June after UKIP’s general election collapse
- Henry Bolton: Elected on 29 September. Received a vote of no confidence on 17 February
Mr Batten, London MEP, said UKIP’s membership had made the right decision to sack Mr Bolton.
He said: “I believe that you have made the best decision that you could in the circumstances.”
Prior to the vote ex-leader Nigel Farage had backed Mr Bolton, saying “for all his faults”, removing him would hasten UKIP’s path to “irrelevance”.