HENRY Bolton has been ousted as Ukip leader after party members backed a motion of no confidence in him.

At a crisis meeting in Birmingham, activists voted by 867 to 500 to express their lack of faith in his ability to lead the party.

The move now leaves the party facing a further period of uncertainty, with Bolton forced out after only being elected in September last year.

Bolton had attempted to cling on to the leadership despite a no confidence vote by the ruling national executive committee (NEC) and a revolt by several senior figures in the party in protest at his relationship with model Jo Marney.

Bolton said he still has "strong affections" for his former girlfriend who sent offensive messages about Meghan Markle, and he has compared the scrutiny of his private life to that faced by Diana, Princess of Wales.

Ukip MEP Gerard Batten has taken over as interim leader.

Senior Ukip figure Suzanne Evans had earlier said that it was "crunch time" for the party and Nigel Farage should return to lead it.

"He really needs to step up to the plate now, he helped create this mess that we are in, he needs to help us get out of it," she said.

"We have had a succession of terrible leaders, all of them backed by Farage. He has got a terrible judge of character when it comes to choosing leaders but he is a good leader himself.

"So come back Nigel, do your job as a full-time politician that you're still paid to be, even if it's just for the next few months until we are actually out of the EU."

Ahead of the meeting Bolton hit out at the media interest following the breakdown of his marriage to Tatiana Smurova and his new relationship with Marney.

He said: "There's probably been nothing like that since the Profumo affair or Diana and Dodi [Fayed]."

Prior to the vote, Bolton refused to rule out the possibility of running again if he was defeated.

The cash-strapped party faces a series of challenges, including the prospect of a hefty legal bill over a defamation action brought by Rotherham's three Labour MPs against MEP Jane Collins.

Former leader Farage recently described the party as "collapsing".

Bolton said he had received a good luck message on his phone from his controversial ex-girlfriend Jo Marney before the EGM.

He said: "I had a text message from her wishing me good luck this morning."

Ukip will face a fresh leadership election within 90 days.

Outgoing chairman Paul Oakden said "Henry Bolton has been removed by the democratic decision of the membership".

The NEC will shortly decide on an interim leader and "a leadership election will take place within 90 days".

Shortly before that vote was held, Oakden had said the EGM was a success – because unlike the last one, no one had died.

At the EGM in 2000 "a member of the party died of a serious cardiac arrest".