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Marney and me – a UKIP love affair

Endeavouring to understand the ructions within the UKIP party is a bit like tuning into a film half-way through. There is the love interest, the power struggle, the baddie looming in the wings, but you quickly realise you have missed all the vital groundwork to help you understand exactly what is going on and are not sure you care enough to Google the plot to find out.

I am of course referring to UKIP leader Henry Bolton and his on-off girlfriend, glamour model and party activist, Jo Marney, who have proved a tabloid newspaper's dream over the last few weeks.

Bolton has risen from apparent obscurity to take the place of UKIP leader, after a number of failed attempts to keep anyone in the job for more than 30 seconds, and whilst only holding the post for four months, he is a practical old-timer by UKIP standards.

He wasn't worth more than a passing mention until around Christmas time when he left his wife and his two young children and began a relationship with Miss Marney. This was more than enough for the media to get their teeth into. There were the magic words – glamour and model – but also the quite significant age gap. Bolton is 54 and Miss Marney is just 25.

Then the media appeal of this couple went stratospheric when a dig around into Miss Marney's background discovered that she too had been happily making abusive comments on social media – namely racist remarks about Prince Harry's fiancé Meghan Markle. If Miss Marney was hoping to become a tabloid darling herself, she absolutely chose the wrong person to pick on there.

Then comes the ironic bit. Bolton immediately came under pressure to ditch his young girlfriend as her association with him was apparently blackening the party name. This seems a little hypocritical for a party known for its right-wing ways and anti-immigration stance. Surely the fact an American actress of black origin was about to marry into the British royal family should be first on their agenda of concerns. It certainly appeared to be top of Miss Marney's – that or jealousy of course.

Bolton appeared to give into the pressure and declared last week he had severed all ties with his girlfriend - until they were spotted together again. Here comes in some sage advice from Uncle Nigel (of Farage fame) who on his radio show said to Bolton that he had made a mistake allowing himself to be photographed with Miss Marney. The implication being, he could carry on with the relationship but it must be kept within closed doors.

Back to the current members of the UKIP party – whoever they are - and they declared a vote of no confidence in Bolton. This was still not enough for him to step down as leader and he has declared he will stay on in the role until an official vote of the membership in four weeks time.

Ask Bolton today and he will say it is all off between him and Miss Marney. He has put his party before his love life and whilst the pair are still in touch, there is nothing romantic going on there - at present. He would not be so clear on what would happen in the future.

As usual, we must stay tuned. Will Bolton be given the final push in four weeks time? Will this see a new UKIP leader, perhaps in the form of Jacob Rees-Mogg or will the party take the advise of its founder Alan Sked and completely disband – perhaps ready for the new party which Farage is threatening to form to slot into its place?

Will Bolton run away into the sunset with Miss Marney declaring his undying love for her – that nothing, not even Brexit means more to him? But perhaps the most important question, bigger than all of these is – do we even care?

I don't think we can help ourselves – despite, or perhaps because of – the fact we don't fully understand the plot (McMafia anyone). Besides it makes a refreshing change from following the struggle of our Prime Minister who seems to be doing little else than coming to the window each day to prove she's still alive.


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