UKIP's leader announces plans to quit on day he is confirmed


Gerard Batten

UKIP has confirmed Gerard Batten as its new leader – and he has said he will resign in 12 months’ time.

The MEP, who had been interim leader since February. said that as he was elected unopposed he would step down so a full contest can take place.

Mr Batten said he will “concentrate on doing all I can to restore the party’s fortunes.”

He is the fourth person to lead UKIP in 19 months, as the party’s popularity has crumbled since the EU referendum.

He took over from Henry Bolton in February after a racism row saw Mr Bolton ousted from the party.

Mr Batten, who has been an MEP since 2004, said he was “pleased” to have been confirmed as leader.

“UKIP is the only real opposition to our political establishment, and we are needed now as much as ever,” he said.

He added that the party needs to get “back into the political fight” with the upcoming local elections.

“I will not make any extravagant promises.

“We are essentially a volunteer organisation and we have a difficult task ahead; one which will require a lot of commitment and work,” he said.

Changes in leadership

While there have been four different UKIP leaders since the referendum, the leadership has changed hands six times.

Nigel Farage, the party’s most famous figure, stepped down after the Brexit vote, only to resume his post when his successor Diane James quit after less than a month at the helm.

Paul Nuttall then assumed the role, but quit when UKIP performed badly in the 2017 general election. Steve Crowther was then acting leader until Mr Bolton was elected in September.

Mr Batten took over after a row in which Mr Bolton’s girlfriend Jo Marney was expelled from the party following allegations she had sent racist messages about Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s fiancĂ©e.

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Reuters

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Before the scandal over alleged racist messages, Mr Bolton had faced calls to quit when he left his wife for Ms Marney.

The party has also suffered a funding crisis and was saved from insolvency by public donations.

Mr Batten said as interim leader he had “made a number of decisions that have put the party on a firm footing financially and organisationally”.



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