Party gets its third leader this year following resignation of Diane James after 18 days
Paul Nuttall has been announced as Ukip’s new leader, replacing Nigel Farage. The North West England MEP won 9,622 votes, 62.6 per cent of those cast, defeating former deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans, who gained 2,973 votes (19.3 per cent), and ex-soldier John Rees-Evans, with 2,775 votes (18.1 per cent).
Nuttall, UKIP’s deputy leader since November 2010, had been odds-on to win the contest. In his acceptance speech, he said: “If UKIP is to be an electoral force, there will be an impetus on Theresa May and her government to give us a real Brexit.”
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, the politician said one of his priorities was to get more women involved in the party. In addition, as well as ensuring that the government “delivers” on Brexit, he wants Ukip to replace Labour as the party of Britain’s working class.
He also said he was optimistic about the party’s future, despite the fact some now consider it irrelevant after the UK voted to leave the European Union. Nuttall is the party’s third leader this year, with the post dogged by problems over the past 18 months.
Farage stepped down from the role on 8 May 2015, in the wake of the general election, when he failed to win the Thanet South seat. Three days later, however, it was announced he would continue to serve as leader.
He resigned again on 4 July this year after the EU referendum, saying he wanted his life back. In the contest that followed, the favourite to succeed him, MEP Steven Woolfe, was disqualified from running because he submitted his leadership application 17 minutes late and Diane James was elected on 16 September.
However, she stood down on 4 October, saying she did not have sufficient authority nor the full support of her colleagues, and Farage stepped in as interim leader.
But once again, the contest was not without problems, with Woolfe withdrawing from the race following a row with fellow UKIP MEP Mike Hookem at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, after which he was rushed to hospital. He then left the party.