UKIP members in Bolton want an end to the ‘infighting and shenanigans’ in the party, according to its embattled leader.

Henry Bolton met with around 60 party members at the Holiday Inn in Bolton town centre yesterday, a week before he faces a vote on his future as leader.

Last month, UKIP’s ruling national executive committee backed a vote of no confidence in Mr Bolton, while Bolton UKIP leader Cllr Sean Hornby also called on him to resign following a ‘bloodbath’ at the recent Hulton ward by-election.

Mr Bolton has been embroiled in a scandal over offensive texts sent by his former girlfriend about Prince Harry’s fiance Meghan Markle, but has refused to quit his post.

After the meeting yesterday, he said: “The mood was a positive one, there is a job to be done and I think they want the present infighting and shenanigans in the party dealt with quickly so that we can move on and do that job.”

He added that allegations about his private life had been ‘fabricated and manipulated for a variety of reasons’, but he expects the UKIP candidates to suffer at May’s local elections as a result.

Mr Bolton said: “However unfortunate things in the past few weeks may have been, what we desperately need is stability and reform so that we can project our voice. We may take a hit in May, but sometimes it takes a bit of time to consolidate and move forward. We have some excellent councillors here in Bolton and what people should vote on is not what is happening in the national party, but the quality of the local representation they have.”

Bolton UKIP chairman Paul Richardson, who is up for re-election in Little Lever and Darcy Lever this year, said: “My re-election will hinge on the work we have been doing in the last three and a half years. Not everyone is reading The Sun and is interested in the shenanigans at the top of the party.

“I think we have made a sufficient impression on residents in the ward and I stand on my track record. While there may be a dint, we have some time to go before May.

“Hopefully Henry will be confirmed as leader on February 17 and his proposals for change will start to have a better effect than has been the case up to now.”