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Kent's Henry Bolton becomes latest Ukip leader

By KentOnline reporter

Kent politician Henry Bolton has become the new leader of Ukip.

The announcement was made at the party's conference in Torquay.

He was one of seven names in the frame to take over from Paul Nuttall, who quit the job after the June election.

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Henry Bolton
Henry Bolton

Based in Folkestone, the former soldier and police officer was considered to be a front-runner in the contest and had seen the odds on him winning fall dramatically in recent weeks.

Mr Bolton, now an international security expert, stood as the Ukip candidate in the election for the Kent crime commissioner in 2016.

VIDEO: Henry Bolton speaks on KMTV's Paul on Politics recently about his vision for Ukip

He was endorsed by several Ukip MEPs and the former party leader Nigel Farage acted as his referee.

Mr Bolton is seen as being on the moderate wing of the party in a campaign which was dominated by the presence of Anne Marie Waters, director of Sharia Watch UK and anti-Islam candidate.

AUDIO: Henry Bolton speaking after his victory

It has been a rapid rise by any measure but who is Henry Bolton,the new leader of UKIP?

He is a former soldier and police officer who works as an international security adviser and was awarded the OBE for services to international security in 2013.

He was the UKIP candidate in the 2016 election for Kent Police and Crime Commissioner. He finished in second place to the Conservative candidate Matthew Scott but ran a well-organised campaign.

Interestingly, he stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the 2005 general election in the Surrey seat of Runnymede and Weybridge but joined UKIP in 2014.

Based in Folkestone, the 54-year-old, who was born in Kenya, had the crucial tacit support of former leader Nigel Farage in the quest to become leader.

He spent eight years as a police officer for the Thames Valley force, during which time he received an award for outstanding bravery.

What are the challenges ahead?

UKIP has seen its fortunes wane since the Brexit referendum which inevitably led to people speculating on why the party needed to exist.

So, he needs to organise the party and develop a policy programme which makes them relevant to voters again.

That could prove tricky and rebuilding support will have to be a long-term project.

One issue for him is whether he can genuinely build a consensus around the party which makes them united.

There is no love lost between him and the anti-Islam candidate Anne-Marie Waters, who some people feel would have split the party if she had become leader.

He is on the more moderate wing of the party but says it is the only one that can properly hold the government to account over Brexit and deliver a good deal for the UK.

What does his election mean for Kent?

UKIP has taken a battering in recent elections after a period in which Kent was regarded as something of a stronghold.

It lost all its county councillors in May - 17 - in total and Nigel Farage suffered the ignominy of failing to secure the South Thanet seat at the general election and the party losing ground in many seats in the county to Labour.

There had been reports that some members of the party would quit if Anne Marie-Waters had won.

Either way, his leadership will be under scrutiny from day one and he is unlikely to enjoy a honeymoon period.

But if he can reinvigorate the party after a period in which it has been in the doldrums, he will have succeeded where his predecessors have failed.

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