UKIP MEP Jane Collins has thrown her hat into the ring to be the party’s next leader.

Ms Collins represents Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire for UKIP in the European Parliament.

She is currently facing possible bankruptcy after failing to pay damages to three Labour MPs over remarks she made about the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

But that has not stopped her from announcing her ambition to become UKIP’s next leader.

The role is currently vacant following the resignation of Paul Nuttall after the party’s disastrous performance in the general election.

Ms Collins, who lives in East Yorkshire, said she wanted to re-build UKIP’s reputation.

“Having watched what has happened to my party over the last few months I have decided to stand for leadership,” she said.

“The infighting and carpet-bagging going on within UKIP is quite frankly very disappointing.

“I have seen UKIP in this position before in the 90s when I worked with Godfrey Bloom and through Godfrey’s hard work and dedication throughout the region we built Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire into one of UKIP’s most strongest region’s with some great election results.

Hull-based UKIP MEP Mike Hookem with party colleague and fellow Yorkshire MEP Jane Collins
Hull-based UKIP MEP Mike Hookem with party colleague and fellow Yorkshire MEP Jane Collins

“At present we are still not out of the water with Brexit and UKIP must survive, thrive and succeed in delivering what the British public voted for delivering.

“Brexit is the start of the process and the next stage of the game for UKIP.”

Ms Collins, who was elected as an MEP in 2014, has been embroiled in controversy over comments she made in a speech at a UKIP conference a month after a report found that around 1,400 children in Rotherham had been abused between 1997 and 2013.

In the speech, she claimed Rotherham MPs Sir Kevin Baron, John Healey and Sarah Champion knew about child exploitation in the town but did not intervene.

Ms Collins argued it was a political speech which reflected her opinion that the MPs were likely to have known the issue was a serious problem.

But the MPs sued for libel and slander and in February she was told to pay £358,000 in damages and costs. She appeared in county court in Hull in May after failing to pay within the required timescale.

After the hearing was adjourned for an examination of her financial assets, a spokesman for Ms Collins said she would face bankruptcy proceedings if it was found she could not make the payments owed.

In a statement announcing her intention to stand for the UKIP leadership, she said: “Over the last few years, since becoming an MEP, I have been subjected to legal action by three Rotherham MPs which unfortunately put severe constraints on my party activities.

“My personal life has been badly affected and the party and my constituents who I have felt I had to speak up for have been let down by all statutory bodies in Rotherham.

“The case is still in the process with the European Court of Justice and police investigations are on-going.”

Ms Collins has also continued to question the case brought against her by the three MPs on her Twitter account.

Last month she tweeted: “I’m being sued for £250k for speaking up against Child Exploitation by predominantly Muslim gangs but somehow I am some aplogist. Weird.”

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