|UKIP Spokesperson for Immigration|
6 September 2015 – 17 October 2016
|Preceded by||Gerard Batten|
|Succeeded by||John Bickley|
|UKIP Spokesperson for Economics|
22 February 2014 – 24 July 2014
|Preceded by||Godfrey Bloom|
|Succeeded by||Patrick O'Flynn|
|Member of the European Parliament|
for North West England
1 July 2014 – 1 July 2019
|Preceded by||Robert Atkins|
|Succeeded by||David Bull|
|Born||6 October 1967|
Moss Side, Manchester, England
|Political party||Independent (since 2016)|
|Education||St. Bede's College, Manchester|
|Alma mater||Aberystwyth University;|
City Law School
Woolfe was born in Moss Side in Manchester and studied law at Aberystwyth University, after which he worked as a barrister and a general counsel. He was elected to UKIP's National Executive Committee (NEC) in 2011 and was elected at the 2014 European Parliament election. He later contested Stockport as the UKIP candidate at the 2015 general election.
Woolfe was considered a frontrunner in UKIP's September 2016 leadership election but was excluded from the race after submitting his nomination late. After Diane James resigned from the party leadership, he stood in the second UKIP leadership election of 2016 but withdrew after he was allegedly injured during an altercation with a fellow UKIP MEP. He resigned from UKIP in October 2016.
Early life and education
Woolfe, the eldest of a family of four, was born in Moss Side, in Manchester, and grew up in the Manchester suburb of Burnage. His younger half-brother is Nathan Woolfe, a footballer who has played for various clubs as a striker. Both his parents were born in Manchester: his mother to an Irish mother, and his English father to a British Jewish mother and a Black American father.
Woolfe was educated at St Bernard's Roman Catholic Primary School, a voluntary-aided state-maintained school in Burnage, followed by St Bede's College, a co-educational independent school in the Manchester suburb of Whalley Range, to which he won a scholarship. He studied law at Aberystwyth University graduating with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in 1990. He pursued further studies at the Inns of Court School of Law in London, before being called to the Bar.
Woolfe completed his BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) with City Law School and was called to the Bar at the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. However, Woolfe failed to secure pupillage and therefore was unable to practise as a Barrister. He spent several years as general counsel for hedge fund managers. He now[when?] also acts as a legal and regulatory consultant to financial institutions.
Woolfe was introduced to UKIP by Lord Pearson of Rannoch and made his debut speech at UKIP's 2010 annual conference in Torquay. After Nigel Farage declared his intention to stand in the 2010 UKIP leadership election, he appointed Woolfe to his team of senior spokespeople, becoming UKIP Economics spokesman. In 2011, Woolfe was elected to UKIP's National Executive Committee, coming second behind Neil Hamilton who topped the poll.
On 8 May 2014, Woolfe chaired a UKIP public meeting in Westminster promoting UKIP's Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) candidates; his responsibilities include being UKIP Spokesman for migration policy. Woolfe has called for a fair and ethical stance towards migration, stressing that migration should be based on merit, not on race, religion, colour or creed.
Woolfe was selected as number 3 on UKIP's regional party list in the 2014 European Parliament election in North West England. He was one of three candidates from the party to be elected as MEP in the region.
From July 2014 until May 2015, Woolfe's Economics brief was shared with Patrick O'Flynn. O'Flynn was responsible for macro policy and taxation, while Woolfe remained UKIP's Financial Affairs and City of London spokesman. Woolfe advocates a simplified and lower tax regime for all, believing that the middle classes have been squeezed with the 40% tax band and has called for the 45% tax band to be abolished and replaced with a higher threshold for 40% band at £45,000. He has also echoed calls made by UKIP Leader Nigel Farage to take those on minimum wage out of paying tax altogether.
Police and Crime Commissioner elections
In November 2012, Woolfe won UKIP's nomination to contest the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Woolfe's campaign message was one of tough on crime and the support of community policing. He finished fifth, polling 23,256 votes (8.55%). It emerged in August 2016 he had a conviction from 14 years earlier for being drunk while in charge of a scooter (he was not riding it at the time) when running in the 2012 PCC elections and admitted he broke electoral rules in failing to declare it. He said that he "forgot about the conviction" for which he had received a £350 fine.
UKIP leadership bid
In July 2016, Woolfe launched his bid to become leader of UKIP following the resignation of Nigel Farage. He gained the support of the leaders of UKIP in Wales, Scotland and London. His running-mate was Welsh UKIP leader Nathan Gill.
Woolfe promised to 'ruthlessly' go after Labour seats in Northern England and the Midlands. Woolfe said UKIP has "won the argument" for managed immigration and promised to drive a new focus on social mobility. Furthermore, Woolfe also said he would build on the 4 million votes UKIP got at the last election.
Membership lapse and leadership application
Woolfe let his UKIP membership lapse from December 2014, and paid for it to be renewed in March 2016. On 31 July 2016, he was blocked by the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) from submitting his leadership, claiming that his application had been submitted several minutes after the deadline. Woolfe denied this, and said UKIP's computer systems were unable to accept his application at the time of submission. He had previously talked of scrapping the NEC.
Possible defection to Conservative Party
On 5 October 2016, Woolfe was reported saying he was "enthused" by Theresa May's leadership, and that he had considered defecting to the Conservative Party. Meanwhile, eighteen days after Diane James was elected as UKIP leader, she resigned. Woolfe said he would stand for the UKIP leadership.
Altercation with MEP Mike Hookem
On 6 October 2016, Woolfe was hospitalised at the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, after a reported row with fellow MEP and UKIP Defence Spokesman Mike Hookem. Hookem later denied the assertion that he had punched Woolfe. Hookem said Woolfe "took exception" to his comment about Woolfe turning his leadership application paperwork in late. After the incident, the interim Leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, said "You see third world parliaments where this sort of thing happens. It's not good".
On the same day, Arron Banks, a major donor to UKIP, who had previously said that UKIP would be "dead in the water" if Diane James did not become leader, said that he would leave UKIP if Woolfe were prevented from running for leader, and if two other senior members remained in the party: "If Neil Hamilton and Douglas Carswell [UKIP's (then) only MP] remain in the party, and the NEC decide that Steven Woolfe cannot run for leader, I will be leaving Ukip".
On 8 February 2019 on BBC Newsnight, Woolfe stated that he would stand for the Brexit Party in the event that Britain had not left the European Union before the May 2019 UK EU elections. He was not, however, among the Brexit Party candidates who stood for election on 23 May.
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- "Mike Hookem: 'I acted in self-defence'". ITV News. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
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- Owen Bennett (15 September 2016). "Ukip Is 'Dead In The Water' If Diane James Doesn't Become Leader, Says Party Donor Arron Banks". Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- May Bulman (6 October 2016). "Arron Banks threatens to leave Ukip after being 'utterly disgusted' by party member's remarks following altercation". The Independent. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- Jennifer Rankin and Peter Walker (7 October 2016). "Ukip's Steven Woolfe offers 'hand of friendship' to MEP after clash". The Guardian.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Patrick Sawer (8 October 2016). "Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe says injuries prove he was attacked by party colleague". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- "MEP Steven Woolfe quits UKIP". BBC News. 17 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- Woolfe, Steven (17 October 2016). "Ukip is ungovernable. I hoped to be leader - instead, today I quit the party" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
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