Ukip leadership hopeful Steven Woolfe MEP has been hospitalised after collapsing in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today (6 October).
"[Woolfe] was taken suddenly ill in the European Parliament building in Strasbourg this morning. He has been taken to hospital in the city and he is undergoing tests," a Ukip spokesman said.
Woolfe, the party's migration spokesman, recently announced his bid to succeed Diane James MEP after she quit following 18 days into the job.
The 49-year-old's only current rival in the contest, Breitbart UK editor Raheem Kassam, has suspended his campaign in reaction to the news.
Former Ukip deputy chairman Suzanne Evans said she was "shocked" by the news and wished Woolfe a "speedy recovery".
Ukip's governing body, the National Executive Committee, is expected to meet next Monday (10 October) to decide on the rules and date of the latest leadership election.
Woolfe, an early favourite for the leadership last time out, was blocked from running in the race earlier this year because he submitted his application papers late.
UPDATE: 12:45 BST
The Daily Mail's European correspondent John Stevens has reported that there was an "altercation" that took place during a meeting of Ukip MEPs this morning.
Nigel Farage has described Woolfe's condition as "serious", while Sky News and The Telegraph say Woolfe has "bleeding on the brain". The party has 22 MEPs.
Patrick O'Flynn reportedly declined to discuss the incident. "My thoughts and prayers are with Steven and I'm desperately, anxiously waiting to hear further news," he told reporters. Meanwhile, images from ITV News have emerged of Woolfe face down on the floor.
"I deeply regret that following an altercation that took place at a meeting of Ukip MEPs this morning that Steven Woolfe subsequently collapsed and was taken to hospital. His condition is serious," Farage said in statement.
UPDATE: 13:51 BST
Sky News is reporting that Woolfe's condition is "life threatening".
UPDATE: 14:55 BST
Woolfe has now regained consciousness, the MEP is said to have had two "epileptic-like" fits and passed out. He said in statement: "The CT scan has shown that there is no blood clot in the brain. At the moment I am feeling brighter, happier and smiling as ever.
"As a precaution, I am being kept in overnight awaiting secondary tests to make sure everything is fine. I would like everyone to know that the parliamentary staff, the Ukip MEPs with me and hospital staff have been brilliant.
"Their care has been exceptional. I am sitting up, and said to be looking well. The only consequence at the moment is a bit of numbness on the left hand side of my face."
UPDATE: 20:37 BST
A spokeswoman for Mike Hookem, who was named as involved in the altercation, has denied that he had punched his colleague, insisting it had been a "verbal altercation", the Mail Online reported.
Meanwhile in a statement, Woolfe said the CT scan had shown that there is no blood clot in the brain.
"At the moment I am feeling brighter, happier, and smiling as ever. As a precaution, I am being kept in overnight awaiting secondary tests to make sure everything is fine.
"I would like everyone to know that the parliamentary staff, the Ukip MEPs with me and hospital staff have been brilliant. Their care has been exceptional. I am sitting up, and said to be looking well. The only consequence at the moment is a bit of numbness on the left hand side of my face."
Ukip leadership timeline
- November 5, 2010 - Nigel Farage re-elected leader with 60.5% of the vote.
- May 22, 2014 - Party gains 27.49% of the vote at European Parliament elections.
- August 28 ,2014 - Douglas Carswell, with a majority of more than 12,000, forces a by-election by defecting from the Tories to Ukip and quitting parliament.
- September 27, 2014 - Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless forces a by-election by announcing his defection to Ukip.
- October 10, 2014 - Carswell wins Clacton by-election with a 12,000 majority.
- November 20 2014 - Voters return Reckless with a majority of 2,920.
- June 23, 2016 - UK votes to leave the EU by a majority of 52%, prompting Mr Farage to stand down as leader again.
- September 16, 2016 - Deputy chairman Diane James elected to replace Farage after securing 8,451 votes in a landslide victory.
- October 4, 2016 - James quits as Ukip leader after just 18 days in charge.