Tuesday

22nd Oct 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.

Crucial summit: last EU-28 format?

The EU summit will be crucial for the future of the EU, but especially for the UK. The next EU summit will not be the same since the UK's withdrawal will have consequences for the power relations within the council.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs criticise Juncker over climate and tax policies
  2. Juncker defends commission record on Greek crisis
  3. Croatian MEP criticises EU parliament for trusting Šuica
  4. Brexit is waste of time and energy, says Juncker
  5. Abortion and same-sex marriage become legal in Northern Ireland
  6. Germany wants internationally controlled zone in Syria
  7. EU parliament refuses to debate Catalonia
  8. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. EU open to imminent Brexit extension, Tusk indicates
  2. EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues
  3. MPs vote on Johnson's latest push for Brexit deal
  4. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  5. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  6. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  7. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  8. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us