UKIP party leader contender Suzanne Evans has announced she is pulling out of the selection process to represent the party in the upcoming Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election.
In a statement on her Facebook page yesterday, (Thursday) she writes: “Regretfully I have withdrawn my application to stand as a potential UKIP candidate in the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election.
“I have reached this decision after being informed by the party chairman that were I to be selected as the UKIP candidate, I would not be able to stay in the party leadership contest. This is because whoever is elected for the by-election will immediately benefit from being promoted by the party.
“I quite understand the dilemma this would put UKIP in and have concluded my priority must be to continue to set out my stall for the leadership, as I believe I have the ability to further broaden our party’s appeal, which is crucial to UKIP’s advance.”
Her decision was greeted with a mixture of agreement and disappointment from party supporters. Some felt it was right for her to concentrate on the leadership while others felt it would be better for a potential party leader to be an MP too.
So far UKIP is yet to decide upon its candidate but county councillor Victoria Ayling is expected to figure in the shortlist.
The Conservatives last night selected Dr Caroline Johnson as their candidate. Labour have announced trade unionist and dustcart driver Jim Clarke as its candidate, Mark Suffield is standing as an Independent, Peter E Hill is standing for the Monster Raving Looney Party and the Liberal Democrats are expected to decide upon a candidate tonight (Friday). The Lincolnshire Independents are also likely to make a selection of a candidate over the weekend.