LONDON (AP) — The U.K. Independence Party fought to take Britain out of the European Union. That battle may soon be won, but now the right-wing party is at war with itself.
On Wednesday, UKIP announced six candidates competing to replace the high-profile but divisive Nigel Farage as party leader.
One name was missing — Steven Woolfe, a Farage ally and the favorite to win the contest, was excluded from the race because he missed the application deadline by 17 minutes.
Three members of the party's National Executive Committee resigned in protest, accusing the majority of "factionalism" and the "deliberate obstruction" of Woolfe.
Woolfe said he was "extremely disappointed" not to be in the race, and said the party's executive committee "has proven it is not fit for purpose."
UKIP has descended into feuding since Farage announced his resignation following the June 23 referendum.
Farage is by far the party's best-known politician, a ruddy-faced populist who helped propel UKIP from the political fringe to a position as influential power broker. Over the past few years the party has won over large numbers of Conservative and Labour voters by appealing to concerns about globalization and large-scale immigration.
Pressure from UKIP helped push then-Prime Minister David Cameron into holding a referendum on Britain's EU membership, which resulted in a victory for the "leave" campaign.
But Farage also failed repeatedly to win election to Parliament, and has clashed with senior UKIP members, including the party's sole national lawmaker, Douglas Carswell.
Michael McGough, one of the executive members who resigned, said the party was in a "fight for survival."
He accused Carswell and senior figures around him of wanting to "take the party in a different direction" and move it toward the center.
"That's where you get run over, in the center of the road," McGough told the BBC.
The leadership candidates — none of them household names — include three UKIP members of the European Parliament: Bill Etheridge, Diane James and Jonathan Arnott. The other contenders are Elizabeth Jones, Lisa Duffy and Phillip Broughton.