UKIP MEP and leadership favourite Steven Woolfe has been hospitalised after he was struck by a fellow MEP at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. A source told New Europe that Woolfe was struck by UKIP MEP Mike Hookem. Later in the evening, Woolfe told the Daily Mail that Hookem had come at him and “landed a blow”; Hookem in turn denied hitting Wolfe.
Thursday, October 7 was Woolfe’s Birthday. He turned 49.
European Parliament staff told New Europe that Woolfe suffered a serious trauma and collapsed close to the European Parliament’s newsroom, after casting his vote in the Parliament’s Plenary chamber. The collapse did not take place immediately after being struck.
The incident took place one day after Woolfe declared his candidacy to become UKIP’s next leader. The leadership contest follows Diane James’ resignation 18 days after her election.
Wolfe was not allowed to run against Ms James, allegedly because of submitting his nomination papers 17 minutes late. The failure to run was a surprise, given that he was considered a Nigel Farage protégé and was the party’s immigration spokesman.
According to UKIP’s interim leader Nigel Farage, the incident took place at a meeting between UKIP MEPs, but no other information was disclosed: “I deeply regret that following an altercation that took place at a meeting of UKIP MEPs this morning that Steven Woolfe subsequently collapsed and was taken to the hospital. His condition is serious.” he added.
According to a UKIP Parliament source, the incident was a result of a meeting over the Party’s future. Woolfe was looking towards Theresa May’s Party, after her promise to follow a hard Brexit line, making fellow MEPs rather angry.
After Nigel, what?
The main challenger to Mr Woolfe’s leadership is Mr Raheem Kassam.
Mr Kassam draws his support from Ukip’s Welsh leader, Neil Hamilton. Hamilton is an ardent opponent of Nigel Farage and has questioned that he is entitled to act as an interim leader.
Hamilton told the BBC that “an eyewitness” told him Woolfe picked a fight, got knocked over, and hit his head on a window. Mr Hookem’s name was not mentioned in that account.
Mr Kassam cancelled a scheduled appearance on Thursday evening on BBC2’s “Daily Politics “out of respect” for Mr Woolfe.
A UKIP statement, however, played down the severity of the incident, suggesting that Woolfe suffered from “epileptic-like fits”.
UKIP’s parliament officials don’t seem to have contacted the French Police, so the event at the moment is only being considered on a “medical” basis.
“There is no bleeding in the brain according to tests. Steve did have two epileptic-like fits and numbness on the left-hand side of his body at 12:30. He did pass out,” said UKIP’s statement, but “this has now passed.”
UKIP’s spokesperson has released a written statement of Woolfe, after he was taken to Hautepierre Hospital. “The CT scan has shown that there is no blood clot in the brain. At the moment, I am feeling brighter, happier and smiling as ever,” writes the statement. “As a precaution, I am being kept overnight, awaiting secondary tests to make sure everything is fine.”
According to the statement, Woolfe is sitting up and be looking well. “The only consequence at the moment is a bit of numbness on the left-hand side of my face,” concludes the statement.