UKIP Leader Diane James is standing down after 18 days in charge of the party.
The 56 year old MEP for South East England succeeded Nigel Farage as leader in September after he decided to step down following Britain’s decision to leave the EU in the referendum held on 23rd June, saying at the time he believed his political ambitions had been ‘acheived’.
In statement to The Times, which she also shared on Twitter, Ms James said it had become clear she did not have ‘sufficient authority’ to implement the changes at the centre of her leadership campaign. She confirmed that for both personal and professional reasons she would not ‘take the election process further’.
— Diane James (@DianeJamesMEP) October 4, 2016
Ms James’ resignation has led to speculation that former leader Nigel Farage could return to lead the party for a third term.
The MEP, who led the party between 2006 and 2009 and took charge again between 2010 and 2016, sought to downplay these suggestions. He told the Press Association that he was ‘retired’ and ‘not coming back’.
UKIP’s sole MP, Douglas Carswell, told the BBC he was both ‘sad and surprised’ to see Ms James step down. Family commitments are thought to have played a role in her decision.
A number of senior UKIP members in the East of England did, however, admit they had been concerned by the ‘radio silence’ on her part since being elected.
They suggested that Lisa Duffy (who challenged Ms James for the leadership and came second) would be the most suitable interim leader unless the party’s National Executive Committee changed the rules.