Man who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU says he is stepping down from leadership of the party
By Rowena Mason and Peter Walker
Nigel Farage is stepping down as leader of Ukip, saying he has done his bit for the cause of Britain leaving the EU.
Speaking at a press conference in Westminster, he said it was time to get his life back after successfully campaigning for the UK to vote for Brexit.
“During the the referendum I said I wanted my country back … now I want my life back,” Farage said on Monday.
It is the third time he has resigned as Ukip leader, but he ruled out coming back again in the future and claimed standing as an MP was no longer top of his bucket list.
Farage, 52, was originally leader from 2006 to 2009 and came back to the job after the 2010 election. He then stepped down after the 2015 election, only to “unresign” and return to fight the campaign to leave the EU.
Farage on Monday insisted this resignation was for good but raised the prospect of taking some role in negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU, saying he “might have something to give”.
He said Ukip was instrumental in winning the referendum for the leave campaign and insisted it would continue as a party in its current form. Part of Ukip’s role in future would be to stop “weakness or appeasement from the British government” when it comes to negotiating Brexit, he said.
Farage said it would not be easy to let go as he feels “part ownership of the Ukip brand” but it was the right time to leave.
The race will now begin to find a successor, with possible candidates including deputy leader Paul Nuttall, immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe, culture spokesman Peter Whittle, Suzanne Evans, who is currently suspended, or the party’s only MP, Douglas Carswell.
Nigel Farage poses with leave supporters before the EU referendum. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Carswell, who has denied he wants to be leader and has frequently clashed with Farage, tweeted a smiley face emoji in response to the resignation.
Farage declined to be drawn on who should be the new leader but said someone would be in place before its autumn conference.
He also refused to say who he backed as the new Tory leader, but that it must be one of the three who backed Brexit. But he hinted at possibilities for closer cooperation between the Tories and Ukip in future.
He said if there were an election this autumn, he would not want Ukip to stand against Brexit MPs.
In a statement, Farage said: “I have decided to stand aside as leader of Ukip. The victory for the ‘leave’ side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved. I came into this struggle from business because I wanted us to be a self-governing nation, not to become a career politician.
“Ukip is in a good position and will continue, with my full support to attract a significant vote. Whilst we will now leave the European Union, the terms of our withdrawal are unclear. If there is too much backsliding by the government and with the Labour party detached from many of its voters then Ukip’s best days may be yet to come.”
Answering questions from reporters, Farage said he hoped there would not be “weakness or, frankly, appeasement” of the EU in the UK’s negotiations to leave. Whoever took over from David Cameron needed to argue from a position of strength due to the EU’s reliance on trade with Britain, Farage argued. He said: “We need a prime minister who recognises that we’ve got the trump cards.”
Farage said he and other Ukip MEPs would remain in the European parliament until the UK left and the roles no longer existed, something he hoped would happen within two years. He added: “The Ukippers will have been the turkeys who voted for Christmas.”
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