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Nigel Farage to step down as Ukip leader

Nigel Farage has announced that he is to step down as party leader - triggering another leadership battle.

In a surprise move, Mr Farage said he had done his bit and wanted to move on with the next stage of his life.

He said that he would continue to support the party but felt that the time was right to move on.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage is to stand down
Ukip leader Nigel Farage is to stand down

Mr Farage stood as Ukip candidate for South Thanet last year, but lost out to Tory Craig Mackinlay in a bitter battle.

“It has been a long journey and an enjoyable one. It has been difficult time but it has all been worth it.”

He would not get involved in who should succeed him but would be watching with interest.

He said he did not know what the future held but he was looking forward to it.

UKIP had delivered its aim of securing a referendum and deliver a Brexit vote.

Mr Farage underlined his view that UKIP would continue to be a political force despite his resignation.

“Ukip is in a good position and will continue, with my full support, to attract a significant vote. Whilst we will now leave the European Union, the terms of our withdrawal are unclear. If there is too much backsliding by the Government and with the Labour Party detached from many of its voters then Ukip’s best days may be yet to come.”

Former Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless, who joined UKIP and triggered a by-election in 2015, paid tribute to Mr Farage, tweeting that he had achieved his main aim.

Mr Farage signalled that intended to continue as South East MEP until 2020.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Sittingbourne
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Sittingbourne

UKIP county councillor Hod Birkby said that Mr Farage would be a loss to Kent.

"He has done what he set out to do. But I am sorry to see him go. I am sure that he will still be around and we need UKIP to hold the government to account."

The decision will mean a leadership contest with bookmakers already offering prices on some possible candidates. The party's former deputy chairman Suzanne Evans has emerged as an early favourite but it is unclear whether she could stand as she remains suspended from the party.

Another candidate could be the party's only MP Douglas Carswell.

It is not the first time Farage has stood down as his party's leader but this time he insists it is a decision he won't be going back on.

He quit on May 8 last year - within hours of losing the fight for the South Thanet seat.

He was voted back in as leader days later.

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