UK Independence Party leadership candidate Raheem Kassam has pulled out of the race just three days after the official launch of his campaign.
The former aide to leader Nigel Farage said he was not “satisfied about the integrity of the process”.
He added: “It is a decision I have not taken lightly, but following meetings this weekend I realised the path to victory is too narrow.”
Mr Kassam urged his supporters to back Peter Whittle for party leader.
His withdrawal means there are four candidates left in the UKIP race.
- Suzanne Evans
- Paul Nuttall
- John Rees Evans
- Peter Whittle
In a statement announcing his withdrawal, Mr Kassam said those at the top of UKIP were treating the contest “like a coronation”, adding he was “not satisfied about the integrity of the process”.
He accused some Members of the European Parliament of using party databases to “effectively campaign against me – ostensibly against the rules”.
Mr Kassam added that he had not raised enough money to run “more than a digital campaign from SW1” and said that not to “feature at events all around the country would have made me a hypocrite, given how much I criticise the establishment for ignoring the country”.
He added: “I wish the UK Independence Party and whoever its new leader is all the best in ensuring Brexit happens, and in the upcoming electoral tests next year. I remain committed to the causes of the UK Independence Party, but sadly, at this campaign, it was a bridge too far for us.”
Mr Kassam launched his official campaign last Friday, portraying himself as the “Farage-ist” candidate and pledging to increase UKIP’s membership to more than 100,000.
After pulling out of the race, he said he would continue as editor-in-chief of the Breitbart London news website and would be travelling to the US to cover the conclusion of the presidential election campaign.
UKIP’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, appeared to welcome the news that Mr Kassam had quit the race, tweeting an emoji depicting a smiley face wearing sunglasses shortly after the announcement.
Another candidate, London Assembly member David Kurten, withdrew on Sunday.
And Steven Woolfe quit the race and the party following an altercation with fellow MEP Mike Hookem in the European Parliament earlier this month which left him in hospital.
Nominations for the UKIP contest close on Monday, with the result to be announced on 28 November.
Mr Farage, for whom Mr Kassam worked as chief of staff, returned to the leader’s role on an interim basis after his successor, Diane James, resigned only 18 days into the job.
UKIP’s Raheem Kassam pulls out of leadership race}