The UK Independence Party has promised a full inquiry into an altercation involving one of its European lawmakers that left him in hospital and threw the party into chaos.
Steven Woolfe, who on Wednesday announced his intention to lead the right-wing UKIP party, collapsed after the incident Thursday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, and remained in hospital overnight into Friday.
What exactly happened — and who else was involved — remains unclear. The front pages of several of Britain’s national newspapers were dominated Friday by the image of Woolfe apparently sprawled unconscious on the floor at the European Parliament.
Interim party leader Nigel Farage pledged to hold an investigation into the incident. “It’s two grown men involved in an altercation,” he told journalists in Strasbourg on Thursday.
“It’s not very seemly behavior. But I’m not today going to get involved in the blame game and name names. It shouldn’t have happened.”
“We’re talking about a dispute that finished up physically.”
In a statement released from the hospital Thursday, Woolfe said he was feeling better. “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,” he said.
“As a precaution, I am being kept in overnight awaiting secondary tests to make sure everything is fine.”
He thanked hospital staff and his fellow UKIP Members of the European Parliament via Twitter for their care.
According to a statement on his website, Woolfe had “2 epileptic-like fits and numbness on the left hand side of his body” and passed out. However, tests have shown no bleeding on the brain.
“I am sitting up, and said to be looking well. The only consequence at the moment is a bit of numbness on the left hand side of my face,” Woolfe’s statement said.
UKIP has been riven by infighting since Farage stood down from the leadership, the day after Britain voted by a narrow margin in a referendum to leave the European Union. UKIP, which had long called for tighter immigration controls and Britain’s “independence” outside the European Union, claimed the Brexit vote as a victory.
Woolfe had intended to stand in the original ballot to replace Farage, but failed to submit his nomination papers on time. The successful candidate, Diane James, stood down after 18 days, saying she did not have the full support of the party’s MEPs and office-holders.
Woolfe, 49, is the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for North West England, having taken office in July 2014, and is the UKIP spokesman on migration and financial affairs.