Nigel Farage announcing on Monday morning that he is stepping down as Ukip leader
Nigel Farage has resigned as leader of the anti-Brussels UK Independence party claiming he has “done his bit” in helping to win the victory for the Leave campaign in last month’s EU referendum and now “wants his life back”.
Mr Farage, who is an MEP, said: “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.”
He added: “I feel I have done my bit and I can’t possibly achieve more than we managed to get in that referendum and so I feel its right that I should step aside.”
This is the second time Mr Farage has announced his resignation as Ukip leader; he did so after the 2015 general election having failed to become an MP at Westminster, only to reverse course later.
His decision is the second surprise retreat by a leader of the Leave campaign in recent days. Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, shocked Westminster last week by dropping out of the battle to lead the Tory party — and become the next UK prime minister — after former ally Michael Gove said he would stand against him.
Mr Farage said the UK needed a team of negotiators from across the political spectrum that “reflects [the] Brexit vote” and “crucially, we need some business people who not only know how the world works, but understand the importance of lobbying industry directly”.
He said the British government should be lobbying German carmakers and French wine producers.
“It is pressure on Merkel. It is pressure on Hollande that is likely to get us the best possible deal,” he said.
But he told a press conference in London on Monday that Ukip was in “good condition” and was now the third political party in Britain.
During the campaign, Ukip was criticised by mainstream politicians on both sides for a poster of Syrian refugees on a road in the Balkans under the headline “breaking point” to highlight migration concerns.
But Mr Farage said: “I do believe myself that it’s Ukip and Ukip’s messages that inspired non-voters to go out there and make the difference. Without Ukip, there is no way that the Leave vote would have got over the line.”
He said “Ukip’s best days may be yet to come”, pointing out that the Labour party was “detached from many of its voters”.
He said he would “watch the renegotiations in Brussels like a hawk”. He was also “very keen” to help the independence parties that are springing up in other countries and forecast that the UK would not be the last country to vote to quit the bloc.
He said leading Ukip had been “a huge chunk” of his life. “During the referendum campaign I said I want my country back. What I’m saying today is I want my life back and it begins right now,” he said.
Douglas Carswell, Ukip’s only MP, is now the bookies’ favourite to replace Mr Farage as party leader.