Ukip leadership favourite Steven Woolfe excluded from contest to succeed Nigel Farage

Mark Sands
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Woolfe missed a deadline to submit his leadership bid by 20 minutes. (Source: Getty)

The favourite to succeed Nigel Farage at the top of Ukip is to be excluded from the party's leadership contest.

Ukip migration and financial affairs spokesman Steven Woolfe submitted documentation in support of his campaign 20 minutes after a Sunday midday deadline, with officials on his campaign blaming technical difficulties.

Candidates were required their application alongside 50 nominations and a cheque for £5,000 to the party.

And following a meeting of the party's vetting committee today, Ukip officials have confirmed that Woolfe will not be allowed to run.

In a statement, Ukip said: "By a clear majority of NEC members Steven Woolfe MEP’s application was considered to be ineligible as a result of a late submission and as such he did not meet the eligibility criteria."

The North West England MEP was the runaway favourite to win the competition, with bookmakers offering odds as short as 1/4 on his leadership bid before news of the missed deadline broke.

Read More: Ukip leadership: Evans backs Lisa Duffy to take over from Nigel Farage

The news means that the party's next leader is now expected to be chosen from deputy chairwoman Diane James, MEPs Jonathan Arnott and Bill Etheridge, Huntingdonshire councillor Lisa Duffy and party activists Phillip Broughton and Elizabeth Jones.

Woolfe has yet to respond to the decision, but bookmakers have immediately moved to make James favourite to succeed Farage.

Ladbrokes is offering James at just 1/3, followed by Duffy at 5/1 and Arnott at 7/1.‚Äč

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