Tuesday

21st May 2019

Diane James, new Ukip leader in Farage's shadow

  • Nigel Farage (l) said he will "advise" Ukip's new leader Diane James (r) (Photo: Reuters)

The UK Independence Party (Ukip) has elected Diane James as its new leader on Friday (16 September).

James, a 56-year old member of the European Parliament, won 47 percent of party members votes against four other candidates.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

She succeeds Nigel Farage, who quit as party leader just after the EU referendum in June and backed her for leadership.

As leader of the UK's most eurosceptic party, James' challenge will be influencing the British government's negotiations for its exit from the EU.

"The threats to the referendum outcome are increasing by the day," she warned party members during her acceptance speech in Bournemouth.

She said that with the Brexit vote, Ukip has "only just won a heat in a 28-member state Olympic competition to leave the European Union".

"Until we get a signature, we're still in, they still tell us what to do," she added, referring to the EU.

Ukip, James said, wants a "100% European Union exit."

"Yes to a sovereign independent UK," she said. "Yes to a UK free to make trade deals with whoever and whenever we want and yes to an immigration policy that allows entry regardless of origin to those with the skills and the expertise and the social values that this country wants."

Another challenge for James will be to get more MPs into the British parliament. In the 2015 general election, Ukip was the third-ranking party in terms of votes but, with the first-past-the post system, it got only one MP elected.

With a Labour party divided over its future direction, James expressed her ambition to make Ukip the second party in the country.

Speaking directly to prime minister Theresa May in her speech, she said: "If you're watching TV this afternoon, you'll be watching the opposition party in waiting."

In her leadership, James will have to take account of Farage, the party's co-founder and long time leader.

In a speech before James' election, he said he would "advise" the new leader and remain himself Ukip's leader in the European Parliament.

“I hope to be engaged in political life without leading a political party,” he said, adding that he would be less constrained. "From now on I’m really going to speak my mind.”

He said he would tour Europe to “try and help independence and democracy movements”.

But in another speech highlighting internal tensions in the party, outgoing deputy leader Paul Nuttall said that “Ukip has not been a happy camp for over a year,” and spoke of "a cancer in the heart of the party".

“The new leader will not benefit in any shape or form if any of us attempt to back-seat drive," he said, in a warning to Farage. "Standing down must mean standing down."

Farage resigns: 'I want my life back'

The prominent vote Leave campaigner and anti-EU MEP already resigned Ukip top job three times before. This time it is final, he said.

UKIP MEP feeling well after punch and collapse

Steven Woolfe, a Ukip MEP, was rushed to hospital after collapsing in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday, reportedly after a fight with a group colleague.

Ukip fights for its life

A fist-fight between Ukip MEPs in the European Parliament on Thursday sent a frontrunner for the party’s leadership to hospital and laid bare a party in shambles.

Timmermans calls for left-wing coalition at debate

The centre-right's Manfred Weber got most of the heat at the EU Commission presidential candidates' final debate before the European elections, while Frans Timmermans reached out to a possible coalition partners - piling more pressure on Weber's EPP.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden Democrat MEP ousted for revealing sex harassment
  2. 80% of Erasmus students find job within three months
  3. September elections in Austria after Strache scandal
  4. Swiss voters approve tighter gun controls in line with EU
  5. Report: May's fourth Brexit vote a 'retread' of old ideas
  6. Turkey insists on right to drill for oil off Cyprus coast
  7. Anti-Salvini banners become new trend in Italy
  8. EU flies rainbow flag on anti-homophobia day

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us