The deputy chair of Ukip, Suzanne Evans, has announced that she will stand to be the party’s candidate for mayor of London.
Evans, who was responsible for the party’s election manifesto and served as its acting leader for four days in May when Nigel Farage reversed his decision to resign, made the announcement on the radio station LBC on Wednesday.
Evans conceded that the party’s candidate was unlikely to win, but said a growing number of people in London wanted to “see things from a Ukip perspective”.
“Let’s be realistic, I don’t think London is going to have a Ukip mayor any time soon,” she said. “I think it’s time for London to have a different view, a different approach.”
Evans joins Peter Whittle, Ukip’s culture spokesman, and Richard Hendron, its LGBT activist, in the race to be the party’s candidate for the mayoral elections, which will be held in May 2016. In the 2012 mayoral election, Ukip’s candidate, Lawrence Webb, finished in sixth place, with 2% of the votes.
In June, Ukip denied that it had sacked Evans as a spokesperson the day after an internal email was leaked to the BBC ordering her to be barred from media appearances, purportedly on the authority of Farage.
The directive said Ukip’s press office should sever all contact with Evans, Ukip’s most prominent female politician, after she said Farage was seen by voters as a “very divisive character”.
Evans was also the subject of negative briefings by a senior Ukip official, who said her position was untenable. The official claimed Farage was “pretty angry” about the comments, made by Evans on the BBC’s Daily Politics show.
Speaking to LBC on Wednesday, Evans downplayed the idea that there was a split in the party. “I usually have the support of Nigel Farage,’’ she said. “There was a lot of nonsense talked about over the general election – a lot of rumours flying around that simply weren’t true.”
In 2014, Evans suggested that the “educated, cultured and young” in the capital were less likely to vote for Ukip, and claimed the party was unlike the “metropolitan elite” in being able to understand what she said was the heartache felt by the rest of England.
Evans was a Conservative party councillor in the London borough of Merton from May 2010 to May 2013, before becoming a Ukip councillor for the same ward. She was Ukip’s candidate in Shrewsbury and Atcham in the 2015 general election.
This article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 5th August 2015 15.45 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010