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Nigel Farage speaks after losing South Thanet and announcing his resignation

He lost the battle to become MP for South Thanet in a highly charged and often acrimonious campaign.

But sitting in a pub garden in Ramsgate just an hour after announcing his resignation as Ukip leader, is Nigel Farage already mulling over a return to the political arena?

In an exclusive interview, he tells Political Editor Paul Francis what the future could hold for him.

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage

Standing on stage at Margate's Winter Gardens after learning he had lost his bid to become an MP, Nigel Farage said he felt a great sense of relief.

He was ready for a holiday and to have some fun, he said. "I have never been happier."

But even after such a gruelling campaign, it is a surprise to hear him an hour or so later ponder whether he is ready to to turn his back on politics completely.

He has left the door open by saying he may throw his hat in the ring at a leadership election in September.


"I am not closing the door completely because to do that in life is moronic. The burden is lifted off my shoulders, we are sitting in an English pub garden and I am extremely happy."

What will he consider before deciding whether to re-enter politics?

Nigel Farage after casting his vote in Ramsgate at the last election
Nigel Farage after casting his vote in Ramsgate at the last election

"I have to think: do I really want to do all this again? If my family said 'no' that would be a really serious consideration. Very serious. No-one has had more abuse thrown at them than I have. It has been bloodly endless for the last two and a half years."

"It affects everybody around you. Particularly when you have a surname like ours. I have to think maybe I have the ability to do something else. I am not sure what."

Doe he wish he hadn't made a promise to quit as leader? "No, I keep my promises. What is done is done. I'm quite relaxed. You can't believe what [the pressure] is like."

A career in the media as a presenter or commentator carries some attraction, he says - ironic perhaps given his criticism of how he feels the party has been treated in the press.

But he definitely won't become a consultant or political lobbyist.

"Can you imagine? It would be awful."

What about Gogglebox? "That would be fun."

For now, he wants a break.

"I want to spend some time seeing my children; catching a few fish. A beach holiday? Oh God, no. Can't be doing with that sort of thing."

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage

But the prospect of a retreat from frontline politics would clearly be a wrench, especially with the prospect of an EU referendum on the cards.

"I wouldn't trust David Cameron as far as I can throw Ted Heath. I want to be involved in the referendum. Whatever capacity I am in.

"I still have a job in the European Parliament and I have got to think about that as well. If you resign as an MEP, the next person on the list gets the seat, so it does not cause any upset."

He adds: "But would it be good in a referendum to have me in the battle in Brussels? Perhaps it would. You will see the entire European Commission and European Council descend on Britain and if I am not there to hold them to account publicly and openly who will it be?"

He admits he felt he was going to lose on polling day.

"I knew the result yesterday [Thursday]. I could see the wards in Broadstairs were 80% turnouts and people queuing to vote. I spoke to people and they were saying 'look Nigel, we love you but we can't have Nicola Sturgeon running the country.'"

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage

"We thought 16,500 would win but with a massively increased turnout, we didn't. We got the kind of score I thought we were going to get."

Disappointing though it was, he says he is keeping things in perspective.

"I wouldn't call it a disaster. It is one of those things; all these things are relevant."

He says the expenses claim row involving the Folkestone and Hythe candidate Janice Atkinson damaged the party and his own campaign. She was abruptly expelled.

"It hurt but the irony was if she had nothing to do with it, she is a rehabilitated figure. The timing of that was disastrous. That did hurt. I had it on dootsteps, but we got over it."

Will he miss causing a fuss when he walks down the street?

"Sadly, that won't go away. I might grow a beard."

Nigel Farage kicks off his election campaign in Dover
Nigel Farage kicks off his election campaign in Dover

Would it be hard to let go of Ukip? "Well, yes and no. We all have lives to live as well. I am going to have a long hard think."

He shrugs off questions about his health with rumours dogging his campaign until he revealed he had been struggling with a bad back, the legacy of his plane crash in 2010.

"Well, we all get aches and pains as we get older. I think I am doing pretty damn well."

Ukip's miserable night was completed with the defeat of Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless.

"I spoke to him said I was sorrier for his result than I was for mine. He has been an incredibly brave and noble man; he took a massive risk with his career to try and change things and I feel very, very sore for him."

But he is keen to underline that while the general election was disappointing, the party is performing much better at the local elections. Its growth at that level is, he says, evidence that Ukip is pulling away from Labour.

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage

"Ukip's future is going to be with working people and our growth will be with Labour voters and former non-voters - there is no question about that."

"I want to spend some time seeing my children; catching a few fish. A beach holiday? Oh God, no. Can't be doing with that sort of thing" - Nigel Farage

Asked what he felt UKIP had achieved through his candidacy in South Thanet and he singles out the future of Manston.

"Manston was a dead duck as far as the Tories were concerned. That's important. I have also tried to builld up east Kent. I have tried very hard to talk the place up."

It is difficult to imagine UKIP's future without Farage. But defeat in another general election has clearly left him bruised and has taken a huge personal toll.

He clearly thinks that the party can survive without him but like a lot of politicians, turning away completely would be hard.

For now, that decision is on hold. He may not be dong any more rallies or public meetings but you may still spot him in Kent.

He will be getting out his rods and heading to Dungeness for a spot of fishing soon, he says.

But don't be surprised if he decides after the summer that there are still bigger political fish to catch.

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