West Midlands MEP James Carver is “over the moon” at the news that Nigel Farage is acting as Henry Bolton’s political referee in UKIP’s leadership race.
The announcement was tweeted by Mr Bolton as the battle to succeed Paul Nuttall heats up as voting gets under way this month.
Mr Carver said: “This is the most significant moment of the UKIP leadership election and undoubtedly a game changer in Henry’s favour.”
Ten days ago, Mr Carver publicly backed international security expert Mr Bolton, saying UKIP would be in “safe hands” with the former policeman and army intelligence officer at the helm.
Mr Bolton who has vowed to “restore UKIP’s relevance and authority” was awarded the OBE for his services to international security in 2013 and is considered a moderate in the party in contrast to anti-Islam candidate Ann Marie Waters.
Former UKIP leader Mr Farage has warned the party will be “finished” if it places Islam at the heart of its agenda.
In announcing his support of the Kent-based politician, Mr Carver said: “Henry has the best credentials, vision and understanding to restructure the party, represent the views of members and ensure UKIP is viable with moderate ideals and broader domestic policies which will capture support and engage the electorate post Brexit.”
Senior party members MEPs Mike Hookem and Ray Finch are also now reported to have endorsed Mr Bolton as their preferred candidate.
There are currently 10 candidates in the race but that number is expected to reduce as some are likely to drop out of the running to ensure whoever is announced as leader at the party conference on September 29 has a strong mandate from the membership.