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Thanet: Nigel Farage says he won't run for South Thanet seat in general election

By Natalie Tipping

Nigel Farage has announced he won't be standing in the general election in June.

It was thought the former UKIP leader would stand for the South Thanet seat that he last contested in 2015.

But this evening the 53-year-old has explained on his radio show why he won't be running.

Nigel Farage

He said: "A lot of people have been asking me what am I going to do?

"I always had a very strong conviction, I always believed that the direction of this country was wrong in terms of being part of the European Union.

"Given that it's the European Parliament, not the British Parliament but the European Parliament, that at the end of this two-year process will have absolute right of veto, I thought to myself, sitting as a backbench MP, being called by John Bercow twice a year for Prime Minister's Questions, or having a chance once or twice a month to be on the front row, to be up close and personal with Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and all the rest of them, in terms of stage there's no comparison.

"And in terms of Brexit I want to make sure that in 2019, as the Brexit deadline approaches and as the European Parliament gets its final vote, I want to make sure those MEPs have the maximum pressure exerted upon them by their constituents.

The former UKIP leader has confirmed he won't be standing for the South Thanet seat in June.

"I will not stand in this election, but I will be standing behind Paul Nuttall and behind UKIP."

Many thought Farage would win the seat in the 2015 election, but he lost to Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay.

There is currently an ongoing police investigation into spending during this political campaign.

Today Mr Mackinlay reiterated that he did nothing wrong during the election process, and has no concerns about the investigation.

ANALYSIS by our political editor Paul Francis

After suffering a bruising defeat in South Thanet in 2015 it was always more likely that Nigel Farage wood not seek a rematch when the next election was called.

He has spent this week apparently mulling over whether to run again and argued that he might have more influence on the Brexit negotiations from his seat in Brussels rather than Kent.

If it is not an entirely convincing argument it did at least serve to offer some kind of alternative case for sticking with his job as the leader of the UKIP MEPs.

While diehard supporters in Kent will be disappointed at the decision it is not hard to see why he decided to call time on his efforts to enter Parliament.

There is every likelihood that had he stood again in South Thanet the outcome would have been the same.

Although he has blamed his defeat Partly on the SNP fear factor that the Conservatives successfully used in the final days of the campaign, that was only just one reason why he lost.

His candidacy succeeded in pulling together supporters of rival parties in an unusual fashion. The anti-Farage camp was less a formal coalition and more of an informal movement with a single aim. Unlikely political bedfellows they may have been but it worked.

One person who will be delighted at his announcement is the Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay.

He has always been publicly unperturbed by the possibility of crossing swords with Mr Farage but behind the scenes, here has been a certain anxiety in the party about the prospect of a rematch.

Partly, that is connected to the as yet unresolved police investigation into the expenses claims made by the Conservatives in the acrimonious battle for South Thanet.

Theresa May decision to call a snap election means the party has avoided the potentially more challenging prospect of a by-election, which Ukip undoubtedly felt that they could have a better chance of winning.

So the Ukip political circus won't be returning to Kent this time around - which after the last election, is something voters might just be relieved about.

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