The MEP will now stand as an independent
Steven Woolfe has announced that he will leave the UK Independence Party after an altercation with a fellow MEP at a party meeting.
Woolfe had been one of the favourites to win the vote for leadership of the party in the wake of the shock resignation of Diane James, but announced on Monday evening that he would be leaving Ukip instead.
Woolfe, who had to be hospitalised after he clashed with fellow MEP Mike Hookem recently, announced that he was abandoning his leadership campaign "with deep sorrow and regret," and that he would be resigning from the party with immediate effect.
"I have come to the conclusion that Ukip is ungovernable without Nigel Farage leading it and the referendum cause to unite it," said Woolfe in a statement. "The way I was treated by members of my own party during the Summer's leadership campaign and the events that have lead up to today have all contributed to me coming to this conclusion.
"The party is riddled with infighting, proxy wars between rival camps and is run by an NEC that is not fit for purpose," he added.
The MEP for North West England was believed to be the preferred candidate of millionaire backer Arron Banks, who reportedly threatened to quit the party if Woolfe was blocked from running for leader. Banks donated over £1 million to Ukip in 2014, and has also demanded that Neil Hamilton, another UKIP MEP from Wales, be kicked out of the party after his comments in the wake of the incident which left Woolfe in hospital.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr. Woolfe stated that there was a "downward spiral that's going on" in the party at the moment, and noted that only a small number of Ukip MEPs or officials "even bothered to ask whether I was still well or unwell, and that just goes to show."
Nominations for the new party leadership opened on Monday, and will close in two weeks' time.