LONDON — U.K. Independence Party legislator Steven Woolfe was moved to a hospital’s neurological unit after being injured in an altercation with a colleague, as the two men gave conflicting accounts Friday of how the embarrassing clash unfolded.
European Parliament member Nathan Gill visited Woolfe on Friday morning and said doctors at the hospital in Strasbourg, France, want to keep him for another 48 hours as a precaution.
Woolfe — the front-runner to be the next leader of the right-wing euroskeptic UKIP — suffered seizures and lost consciousness after clashing Thursday with another UKIP member of the European Parliament during a party meeting at the parliament’s building in France.
Gill said Woolfe’s condition “was at one stage touch and go” but that the politician was now recovering.
“He is sick of croissants and he is looking forward to a good full English breakfast,” Gill said.
Woolfe has alleged that UKIP colleague Mike Hookem punched him, telling the Daily Mail that Hookem “came at me and landed a blow.”
But Hookem has denied striking Woolfe.
Hookem said Friday the two men had argued at the meeting about Woolfe’s flirtation with the rival Conservative Party. He said Woolfe had said “Let’s take it outside the room” and removed his jacket.
But Hookem told the BBC there were “no punches thrown whatsoever.”
“It was a scuffle between the two of us … it was two people grappling,” he said.
Hookem said Woolfe fell backward after the scuffle, but that he saw no sign his colleague had hit his head.
Woolfe collapsed a little while later inside the parliament building in Strasbourg.
UKIP is investigating the incident.
European Parliament President Martin Schultz said he had referred the “extremely serious” episode to a conduct committee, which could suspend the two lawmakers from voting or cut their allowances.
A small anti-EU party, UKIP was instrumental in getting Britain to hold a referendum on EU membership, which ended in a June 23 vote to leave the 28-nation bloc. The result was a political triumph for UKIP, but since gaining its long-sought goal the party has been torn by infighting.
Woolfe, 49, annoyed some party colleagues when he said recently that he had considered joining Britain’s governing Conservatives. But he decided to stay with UKIP, and had announced his intention to run in an upcoming leadership contest. Bookies had made him the favorite to replace longtime leader Nigel Farage.
Gill said Woolfe had “reached out the hand of friendship to Mr. Hookem” and did not want to get police involved in the incident.