Paul Nuttall has not agreed to contest Stoke by-election, says UKIP deputy Peter Whittle

Paul Nuttall was elected leader of UKIP last year

Paul Nuttall, seen here campaigning for the UKIP candidate in the recent Sleaford by-election, has been widely tipped to stand in Stoke

Thursday, January 19, 2017

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has not formally agreed to contest the Stoke-on-Trent by-election, according to his deputy Peter Whittle.

It has been widely reported that Nuttall, who was elected UKIP leader in succession to Nigel Farage last year, will stand in the by-election triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Tristram Hunt.

Whittle, appearing on Julia Hartley-Brewer's show this morning, said such reports are "premature" and senior figures within UKIP are still discussing their candidate.

However he refused to rule out the idea that Nuttall, who has stood for election to Parliament on several previous elections, will be put forward by his party.

Julia suggested to her interviewee that if Nuttall contests Stoke, a working-class pro-Brexit city, and doesn't win then it will signify the end of UKIP. Whittle rejected this idea, however, suggesting people are always keen to write UKIP off but the party and its "stubborn" members will fight on.

Whittle also suggested Hunt's is likely to be the first of many departures from the Labour Party, due to widespread dissatisfaction with Jeremy Corbyn and the looming threat of de-selections.