Henry Bolton has attacked Ukip’s ruling body and warned that the party cannot afford another leadership contest – while insisting his relationship with model Jo Marney should not be taken into account.

The Ukip chief said the party “cannot politically afford” to be plunged into another search for a leader after the national executive committee (NEC) backed a motion of no confidence in him.

A stream of senior Ukip officials have resigned from their posts in protest at Mr Bolton’s refusal to step down, among them his own deputy leader, Margot Parker.

However he received an unexpected lifeline from former leader Nigel Farage when he suggested Mr Bolton could be Ukip’s Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Bolton denied that his private life was to blame in the crisis gripping the party.

He said: “It’s the NEC that has failed to address internal disciplinary matters, it’s failed to unite the party and it’s full of people who have always backed different people in the party and added to the fractionalisation of the party.”

Ukip members will decide on Mr Bolton’s fate in a vote at an emergency meeting (EGM) in February.

He said: “We cannot politically afford another leadership contest and what’s really important going forward is we bring some stability to this. I’m attempting to do that.”

Mr Bolton said Ukip needed to undergo constitutional reform, but denied he was trying to keep a grip on the party.

The 58-year-old repeatedly dodged questions about the compatibility of his position and his relationship with Ms Marney after it was revealed she sent racist messages about Prince Harry’s fiancee, Meghan Markle.

Mr Bolton said the romantic element of their relationship had ended and Ms Marney had resigned from the party.

However he left open the prospect that they may one day rekindle the relationship “if it does not damage the party”.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Farage said Mr Bolton knew Ukip “must reform or die”.

“His refusal to accept the NEC decision to quit, and his insistence on carrying out a full EGM, could provide a lifeline for Ukip. For this crisis is about more than Henry Bolton. It is about whether Ukip is fit for purpose.

“As one party spokesman after another resigns, I am reminded of the nightmare Jeremy Corbyn faced in 2016 when 21 members of his shadow cabinet resigned.”