After a mere 18 days, UKIP leader Diane James is resigning from her post and Nigel Farage is returning to act as interim leader until an election can be held to find a successor. James did not appoint any deputy before her resignation, so there was no one immediately available to take over after her, causing a bit of tension in a party already fraught with schisms and power-struggles.
“I keep trying to escape… and before I’m finally free they drag me back,” Farage joked in an interview with the BBC. He was UKIP leader 2006-2009 and 2010-2016.
The Electoral Commission told BBC that paperwork notifying them of the change in leadership has been submitted by UKIP, but also added that this paperwork has not been processed yet as officials had questions regarding the completion of the form.
“We are aware that the newly elected leader of UKIP has now stood down and are in touch with the party to confirm how they wish to proceed regarding updating their entry on the statutory register,” a spokesman said.
Insufficient internal support for Diane James
Farage resigned as UKIP leader in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum in June, and was replaced by James on 16 September. James announced her own immediate resignation late on 4 October, citing a lack of support within the party.
“It has become clear that I do not have sufficient authority, nor the full support of all my MEP colleagues and party officers to implement changes I believe necessary and upon which I based my campaign,” she explained in a resignation statement sent to The Times newspaper. “For personal and professional reasons therefore, I will not take the election process further.” Her statement also included a promise to concentrate fully on her activities and responsibilities as an MEP.
James is a former Conservative councillor who jumped ship in 2011. Her resume includes being a businesswoman and a healthcare professional, and she defeated four other contenders in the recent UKIP leadership battle: Phillip Broughton, Lisa Duffy, Bill Etheridge and Liz Jones. One-time frontrunner Steven Woolfe was not eligible to run since he didn’t hand in his nomination papers in time, and serious contender Suzanne Evans was barred from participating since she was – at the time – suspended. Out of 17,970 votes cast in the leadership election, 8,451 was for James, making Duffy runner-up with 4,591 votes.
UKIP chairman Paul Oakden has told BBC Radio 4’s Today that he will look to hold an emergency meeting to confirm the process for electing a new UKIP leader.
“Whilst the decision is unfortunate, it is one that Diane is entitled to make. We thank her for all her work as leader, and as a hard-working MEP, a role she will continue with her customary vigour,” he said.
Councillor Lisa Duffy – runner up in the previous election for UKIP leadership – has confirmed that she is considering standing for leadership again. She also noted that she will confer with Suzanne Evans before making any decision. Both Duffy and Evans could participate in the election, or one of them could stand with the support of the other.
Liz Jones is also interested in getting back into the game, but is yet to make a final decision.