Ukip leadership favourite Steven Woolfe is reported to be in a “life-threatening condition” in hospital following an altercation at a meeting of the party’s MEPs.
The incident took place during what was said to be a heated discussion at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Fellow leadership contender Raheem Kassam wrote on Twitter: “I’ve just heard Steven Woolfe’s condition is life-threatening. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.”
— UKIP (@UKIP) October 6, 2016
There were unconfirmed reports that Mr Woolfe was punched during the course of an argument.
A photograph posted on the ITV News website showed the MEP lying spread-eagled and face-down on a gangway clutching a briefcase with an attendant leaning over him.
In a brief statement, party leader Nigel Farage said: “I deeply regret that, following an altercation that took place at a meeting of Ukip MEPs this morning, Steven Woolfe subsequently collapsed and was taken to hospital. His condition is serious.”
A Ukip spokesman added: “He has been taken to hospital in the city and he is undergoing tests.”
The incident happened a day after Mr Woolfe declared that he was a candidate for the leadership following the shock resignation of Diane James just 18 days after she was elected to the post.
According to one source, it took place at what was described as a “clear-the-air meeting” with a group of MEPs who had been unhappy at his admission that he had considered defecting to the Conservatives.
In his statement announcing his candidacy, Mr Woolfe said he had been “enthused” by Theresa May’s start to her premiership, prompting him “as it did many of my friends and colleagues, to wonder whether our future was within her new Conservative Party”.