Farage rules out UKIP re­turn af­ter suc­ces­sor quits Bri­tain’s party plunges into dis­ar­ray

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Nigel Farage ruled out re­turn­ing to lead Bri­tain’s anti-EU UK In­de­pen­dence Party (UKIP) yes­ter­day af­ter his suc­ces­sor un­ex­pect­edly stepped down just 18 days into the job.

Diane James’s res­ig­na­tion plunges Bri­tain’s third big­gest party into fur­ther dis­ar­ray as it grap­ples with in-fight­ing and an ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis fol­low­ing the vote to leave the Euro­pean Union.

Farage said he re­mains tech­ni­cally in charge of UKIP as the of­fi­cial pa­pers rec­og­niz­ing James’s elec­tion on Septem­ber 16 had not yet been pro­cessed by the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion. But the 52-year-old MEP, the public face of UKIP and one of the lead­ers of the Brexit cam­paign, said he had no in­ten­tion of re­turn­ing to the post he held for most of the past decade. “It is time for some­body else to do the job,” Farage told Sky News, adding that he would not re­turn to per­ma­nently lead UKIP, “not for $10 mil­lion”.

He quit the lead­er­ship fol­low­ing the June 23 vote to leave the EU, say­ing his life’s am­bi­tion had been achieved, but his de­par­ture robbed UKIP of its one high-pro­file fig­ure. The elec­tion of the lit­tle-known James, a 56-year-old mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, and the ful­fill­ment of the party’s pri­mary ob­jec­tive led some to ques­tion its fu­ture.

UKIP won 12.6 per­cent of the vote in the 2015 elec­tion, mak­ing it the third largest in terms of votes cast, but it only has one mem­ber of par­lia­ment (MP) un­der Bri­tain’s first-past-the-post sys­tem. Party chair­man Paul Oak­den said James’s de­par­ture was “un­for­tu­nate” but said UKIP’s Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee would meet on Oc­to­ber 17 to be­gin choos­ing her suc­ces­sor.

“We are not a party dom­i­nated by in­di­vid­u­als. We have the abil­ity to move on, to move for­ward,” he told Sky News. “I would be sur­prised if we did not have a new leader in place by the end of Novem­ber.”

Lack­ing party’s sup­port

James an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion for “per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rea­sons” late Tues­day, is­su­ing a state­ment that laid bare the ten­sions within the party. “It has be­come clear that I do not have suf­fi­cient au­thor­ity, nor the full sup­port of all my MEP col­leagues and party officers to im­ple­ment changes I be­lieve nec­es­sary and upon which I based my cam­paign,” she said.

Oak­den said James had had “a dif­fi­cult cou­ple of weeks”, say­ing she had been at­tacked at a rail­way sta­tion, an in­ci­dent that re­port­edly in­volved her be­ing spat at.

The Times news­pa­per said she was also re­luc­tant to lead UKIP with­out as­sur­ances about the party’s fund­ing, while other re­ports said her hus­band was ill. “I didn’t be­lieve this was some­thing that she par­tic­u­larly wanted to do, or had the pas­sion to do,” Lisa Duffy, the run­ner-up in the party lead­er­ship elec­tion, told BBC ra­dio.

James only be­came favourite for the job af­ter her main ri­val, Steven Woolfe, was dra­mat­i­cally ruled out of the con­test af­ter fail­ing to sub­mit his ap­pli­ca­tion in time.

Woolfe was sup­ported by both Farage and Ar­ron Banks, the party’s main fi­nan­cial backer, who called the de­ci­sion to ex­clude him a “coup”.

They sub­se­quently backed James. The tur­moil in UKIP comes the day af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s rul­ing Con­ser­va­tives made a pitch to the anti-EU party’s vot­ers at their an­nual con­fer­ence with prom­ises to cut im­mi­gra­tion fol­low­ing the Brexit vote. — AFP

STRASBOURG, BAS-RHIN, FRANCE: Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and for­mer leader of the anti-EU UK In­de­pen­dence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage takes part in a vot­ing ses­sion at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day. — AFP

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