UKIP tight lipped over Boston and Skegness candidate with rumours rife and Neil Hamilton out of the picture

Out of the race? Neil Hamilton with wife Christine in Boston this summer
Out of the race? Neil Hamilton with wife Christine in Boston this summer

Party bosses are still yet to make up their mind on the UKIP candidate for Boston and Skegness...although deputy chairman Neil Hamilton is said to be out of the running.

The former Tory minister is said to have withdrawn from the contest before a hustings event at Batemans Brewery in Wainfleet last Thursday.

At that meeting party members are said to have selected the candidate they wish to fight for the seat in 2015 – but they are not officially confirming the winner until the decision is ratified by the national executive committee.

That announcement was due by Monday but there is still no official word from the party.

A source close to the selection process told The Standard that the choice of members on the night was in fact Skegness-based councillor Robin Hunter-Clarke, the party’s branch chairman.

Neither Mr Hunter-Clarke or Mr Hamilton returned calls to The Standard to confirm their position but fellow contender Paul Wooding says he withdrew from the race before the hustings was held.

Mr Hamilton and wife Christine visited Boston in July and Neil announced his intention to stand in August, telling The Standard: “I have put my application in. They’re getting together a shortlist and I hope to be on that.”

His reason for withdrawing is not clear.

Rumours circulating since Thursday’s meeting have included that UKIP’s Grimsby candidate Victoria Ayling and even ousted ex-county leader Chris Pain were late entries into the race – but both suggestions were firmly quashed when raised by The Standard.

Another source told The Standard that there is ‘no problem’ causing the delay in making an announcement.

One theory is that UKIP wishes to keep its sole focus on the Rochester and Strood by-election this Thursday.

The eurosceptic party is being tipped to pick up its second seat in the House of Commons as Mark Reckless, who defected from the Conservative Party, looks to regain his seat for UKIP.

The party already postponed its original hustings date from September 11 until last week to concentrate on the Clacton by-election, which was won for the party by Douglas Carswell.

A poll UKIP commissioned by Survation recently suggested it is on course to secure 46 per cent of votes here - a swing away from the Conservatives that would be higher than any other in postwar election history. The poll put the Conservatives on 26 per cent but also showed more people ‘unfavourable’ than ‘favourable’ to Neil Hamilton.