London, July 4 (IANS) Nigel Farage on Monday announced he is stepping down as leader of UK Independence Party (UKIP), saying he has done his bit for the cause of Britain leaving the European Union (EU).
Speaking at a press conference in Westminster, he said he had fulfilled his political ambitions after successfully campaigning for Brexit — Britain’s exit from EU, the Guardian reported.
“I have decided to stand aside as leader of UKIP,” he said. “The victory for the ‘Leave’ side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved. I came into this struggle from business because I wanted us to be a self-governing nation, not to become a career politician,” he said.
“During the referendum I said I wanted my country back..now I want my life back,” he added.
It is the third time he has resigned as UKIP leader, but he dismissed the idea of coming back again in the future and claimed standing as a member of parliament was no longer top of his bucket list.
Farage, 52, was originally leader from 2006 to 2009 and came back to the job after the 2010 election. He then stepped down after the 2015 election, only to “unresign” just days later to help lead the campaign to leave the EU.
The Member of European Parliament (MEP) on Monday insisted this resignation was for good but raised the prospect of taking some role in negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU, saying he “might have something to give”.
The race will now begin to find a successor, with possible candidates including deputy leader Paul Nuttall, immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe, culture spokesman Peter Whittle, Suzanne Evans, who is currently suspended, Diane James, an MEP, or the party’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, the news report added.
Farage declined to be drawn on who should be the new UKIP leader but said someone would be in place before its autumn conference.
He also refused to say who he backed as the new Tory leader but argued that it must be one of the three — Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove or Liam Fox — who backed Britain’s exit from the EU.
Farage insisted the UKIP would continue as a party in its current form but also went on to hint at possibilities for closer cooperation with the Tories in future. He said if there were an election this autumn, he would not want UKIP to stand against Brexit MPs.
Looking back at the EU referendum, he said UKIP was instrumental in getting David Cameron to hold the poll and winning the result for the leave campaign.
Part of the UKIP’s role in future would be to stop “weakness or appeasement from the British government” when it comes to negotiating Brexit, he said.
“I am fully behind the party. Let’s see where we are in two and a half year time,” he said. “But I don’t need to be leader of UKIP. I will be part of the 2020 campaign if we don’t get what we want. I am not a career politician. I came into this business because I wanted my country back. We’ve got our country back. If the terms aren’t right, I will do whatever I can to help people to make it right.”