Raheem Kassam pulls out of UKIP leadership race

Nominations for the party leadership close at noon today

Raheem Kassam pulls out of UKIP leadership race

Image: Kirsty Wigglesworth AP/Press Association Images

Nigel Farage's former aide Raheem Kassam has pulled himself out of the running to be the next UKIP leader.

In a statement, Mr Kassam said he had come to realise "the path to victory is too narrow" and urged his backers to support former London mayoral candidate Peter Whittle.

He said that he could not raise enough money for his leadership bid to be any more than a digital campaign based in Westminster, and also complained of "disgraceful treatment by the media.

Mr Kassam said not appearing at campaign events around the country would have made him a hypocrite, "given how much I criticise the establishment for ignoring the country".

As well as directing his frustration at the media, Mr Kassam accused the UKIP hierarchy of treating the leadership election "like a coronation".

In a statement, Mr Kassam said: "This was a very difficult decision, and I want to thank everyone who supported me in the process."

Earlier this week, Mr Kassam and his former running mates Paul Nuttall and Suzanne Evans said they will try and secure acting leader Mr Farage a seat on the benches of the House of Lords if they win.

Mr Farage announced his resignation as UKIP leader in July having achieved his career goal of securing the UK's exit from the European Union.

"During the referendum I said I wanted my country back ... Now I want my life back," he said following the result.

The 52-year-old is acting head of the party he's led for a decade, after stepping back in following the resignation of Diane James.