Nigel Farage: I could lead Ukip again

The three-time leader of Ukip says a second EU referendum is back on the agenda

(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Nigel Farage tells Ukip's only MP Douglas Carswell to 'put up or shut up'

18 December 2015

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has hit back at Douglas Carswell, the party's only MP, after he suggested Ukip needed a "fresh face" to succeed.

Carswell, the MP for Clacton who defected from the Conservatives in August 2014, said that Ukip needed to "change its management if it's to go the next level", adding that a "fresh face" could improve the party's image.

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"No party is defined by any one person," he added, in comments clearly directed at Farage, who has been the leader and public face of the party since 2006, excluding a year out of office in 2009 to 2010 and a short-lived resignation earlier this year.

Farage was quick to retaliate, but did not seem surprised by Carswell's remarks. He told BBC correspondent Iain Watson that the MP for Clacton "has been saying this privately for some months". He added that Carswell should "put up or shut up" – the same ultimatum he issued to critics within the party after the May General Election. Carswell has already ruled himself out of running for the top job, saying he did not have the patience needed to serve as party leader.

Carswell's remarks came as part of a BBC documentary which follows Ukip's first elected MP. At another point in the documentary, Carswell said Ukip needed to escape its reputation for unpleasantness and social illiberalism. "Optimistic, sunshine, smiley, socially liberal, unapologetically free market," was how Carswell described the ideal image for Ukip if its members are to move on from their reputation as disaffected "also-rans".

He dismissed Farage's vocal complaints that the use of postal votes in the Oldham by-election, in which Labour left a hopeful Ukip in the dust, amounted to rigging. "I don't want to wake up the morning after the European referendum and hear it was the postal votes," quipped Carswell.

Nigel Farage: Ukip leader claims Oldham vote 'bent'

04 December

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has claimed the postal voting in the Oldham West and Royton by-election was "bent".

Labour won a majority of more than 10,000, marking an increased share of the vote and a victory for Jeremy Corbyn. The party's candidate Jim McMahon will replace the late Labour politician Michael Meacher.

Ukip's candidate John Bickley came in second place with 6,487 votes (23 per cent) to Labour's 17,209 (62 per cent). Labour's success appears to have been partly secured by an effective postal vote operation, says the Daily Telegraph.

But, in the early hours of the morning, Farage tweeted that it was a "perverse" result and claimed that "evidence from an impeccable source" showed the postal voting was bent".

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Ukip's deputy leader Paul Nuttall also suggested postal votes had "distorted" the result. "We should go back to the old system where you had to give a good reason why you can't get off your backside and go down to a polling booth. That would make it fair again. That would make polling day actually mean something," he said.

McMahon dismissed the claims, saying: "There is nothing wrong with people making a democratic decision not to support Ukip", while Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson said it looked like Farage was "just crying over spilt milk".

Ukip feud: Suzanne Evans ousted in 'purge of the plotters'

20 May

Suzanne Evans, the policy chief responsible for drafting Ukip's election manifesto, has stepped down amid claims of an ongoing "purge of the plotters".

The party confirmed that Evans had lost her job as policy developer, but would remain in the unpaid role of deputy chairman. She is expected to be replaced by Mark Reckless, the former Ukip MP who defected from the Tories and then lost his seat in the election, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Sources within the party had accused Evans and other senior Ukip members of plotting against Nigel Farage, but she has "strongly refuted" the claims. The reshuffle comes amid widespread infighting which emerged after Farage "un-resigned" as leader following his election defeat.

Earlier this week Patrick O'Flynn stood down as economics spokesman after publically criticising the Ukip leader. He accused Farage of being a "snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive" man who had made the party look like a "personality cult". O'Flynn later apologised for going public with his "unfair and unkind" words, saying his views on Farage had been "fragment of wider passage" and "not what I think of him".

O'Flynn's departure from the party's top team was inevitable, says the BBC's Robin Brant. "You can't attack Nigel Farage in such a personal way, via the front page of the Times, and expect to stay in post."

In response to his resignation, Farage said it took "a big man" to apologise and that the feud had ended. He insists he now has the backing of nearly everyone in the party to remain leader in the run-up to the EU referendum.

"Bad things have been said but we now have drawn a line on this and it's all behind us," he said. "I think Ukip has never been more united around me."

Nigel Farage: can he stay on as UKIP leader?

15 May

Nigel Farage is refusing to quit as Ukip leader despite a growing row within the party and pleas for him to stand down.

The infighting – described by one senior Ukip source as an attempted "coup" – emerged days after Farage un-resigned as Ukip leader.

The 51-year-old had promised to stand down if he lost the South Thanet seat in the general election, but after following through on his promise he was reinstated days later when the party refused to accept his resignation.

Patrick O'Flynn, Ukip MEP and economic spokesman, subsequently accused Farage of being a "snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive" man who had made the party look like a "personality cult".

He later verified that he supported Farage but wanted to see the back of the leader's "inexperienced" advisers who were trying to pull the party in a similar direction to that of the Tea Party movement in the US.

Ukip has since announced that Matthew Richardson, the party secretary, had tendered his resignation and Raheem Kassam, Farage's chief of staff, would be leaving.

In a separate row, Ukip's only MP Douglas Carswell has been quarrelling with Farage over whether he should accept all of the £3.25m funding for his parliamentary activities due to the party on account of its 3.9 million votes.

Now UKIP supporters, donors and members are wading into the debate about whether Farage can maintain his position.

BBC political correspondent Robin Brant said the infighting had become "very public and very nasty" with close allies of Farage using "unprintable four and five letter words" in texts to him to describe O'Flynn and Carswell.

The Times suggests it might be the "biggest implosion in the party's 22-year history" and reveals that Ukip officials have been asking MEPs to sign a letter of support for Farage – a tactic branded as "North Korean" by one insider.

Last night on Question Time, Farage insisted he had "phenomenal" support from within the party and that it would be a "massive, massive mistake" for him to stand down as Cameron hopes to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the European Union.

Richard Desmond, the owner of Express Newspapers, who donated £1m to Ukip during the election campaign, said Farage had his "support 101 per cent".

But the party's treasurer Hugh Williams said it was time Farage let the party "stand on its own two feet".

Ukip donor Stuart Wheeler also suggested Farage should resign at least until he can be elected back in, while former Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom said Carswell should become the new leader.

Meanwhile, police who had been investigating a complaint from a member of public about alleged electoral fraud in South Thanet said they had closed the case after no evidence of wrongdoing was found.

Nigel Farage 'snarling and aggressive' says campaign chief

14 May

Nigel Farage has become a "snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive" man whose return as leader of Ukip makes the party appear little more than a "personality cult", according to the party's campaign director.

Patrick O'Flynn, the Ukip economic spokesman and an MEP, said in an interview that Farage had changed from "cheerful, ebullient, cheeky and daring" to being a much more difficult character.

After failing to win the seat of South Thanet in last week's general election, Farage kept to his pre-election promise and stood down as the leader of Ukip. But the 51-year-old MEP was back just three days later after the party "rejected his resignation".

Speaking to The Times, O'Flynn said: "What's happened since Thursday night, Friday morning has certainly laid us open to the charge that this looks like an absolutist monarchy or a personality cult.

"I don't think that even Nigel would say it's been the most glorious chapter of his leadership."

He added that if the party continued along its present trajectory, it risked opening itself to accusations that it had become an "absolute monarchy".

O'Flynn said that Ukip was "a mature political party now" and must act like one. To set the party back on track, Farage must "clear out" his "aggressive" and "inexperienced" aides and adopt "a much more consultative and consensual leadership style", he said.

Ukip received 3.9m votes in the recent general election, but emerged with just one MP.

Douglas Carswell, the MP for Clacton, who defected from the Conservative party last year, has already found himself at odds with Ukip party officials. According to the bookmaker William Hill, he is now at evens to leave the party before the next general election.

South Thanet: electoral fraud probe in Farage's lost seat

13 May

Police are investigating a report of electoral fraud in the constituency of South Thanet, where Nigel Farage lost out to Conservative Craig Mackinlay in the parliamentary elections last week.

A Kent Police spokesman confirmed the force had "received a report of electoral fraud and enquiries are on-going" but did not give any details about who contacted the force, nor what the report entailed.

Ukip sources told Guido Fawkes that it was not them who made the complaint.

Mackinlay took the South Thanet seat with 18,838 votes, putting Farage in second place with 16,026 votes. Nevertheless, Ukip managed to take overall control of Thanet district council.

Despite winning a sizeable 12.6 per cent share of the overall vote, Ukip returned just one MP, Douglas Carswell in Clacton, to parliament under the first-past-the-post system. Tory defector Mark Reckless also lost his Ukip seat to his former party in Rochester and Strood.

Farage initially resigned after failing to win in South Thanet but has since "un-resigned" after the party's National Executive Committee refused to accept his written notice.

The result in his constituency prompted outcry on social media from Ukip supporters claiming the vote had been rigged. The hashtag #ThanetRigged began trending as tweeters cast suspicion on Ukip's popularity across the country but inability to get its leader into parliament and the party's success in the Thanet council vote compared to its failure to win the parliamentary seat.

However, Farage himself said he had predicted the result on the day of the election. "I could see the wards in Broadstairs were 80 per cent turnouts and people queuing to vote," he told Kent Online. "I spoke to people and they were saying 'look Nigel, we love you but we can't have Nicola Sturgeon running the country'."

The resurrected Ukip leader has since announced plans to stand for parliament in the event of a by-election in a Labour seat.

Nigel Farage resigns after failing to win Thanet South

8 May

Nigel Farage has resigned as Ukip leader after failing to win the South Thanet seat – although some suggest he is simply taking a sabbatical.

He has recommended deputy chairman Suzanne Evans as acting leader, but said he will consider putting his name forward in the leadership contest.

During the campaign, Farage said he would resign if he failed in his bid to become an MP. Today, he told reporters he was a man of his word.

He confirmed that he would resign as Ukip leader, but added: "I intend to take the summer off, enjoy myself a little bit, not do very much politics at all. There will be a leadership election for the next leader of Ukip in September and I will consider over the course of this summer whether to put my name forward to do that job again."

Farage was beaten in the ballot by the Conservative Party's Craig Mackinlay by 2,812 votes. He came in second place with 32 per cent to Mackinlay's 38 per cent.

Labour came in third place with 24 per cent, while comedian Al Murray who was running for the Free United Kingdom Party came in sixth place with just one per cent of the vote.

In the overall vote, Ukip is currently third place with a sizeable 12.6 per cent share. This marks a 9.5 per cent increase since the last election, the highest rise out of all the parties.

Despite winning almost three times the number of votes as SNP, the party has so far taken only one seat compared to SNP's 56 seats because of the UK's first past the post electoral system.

Former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell, who defected to UKIP, has been re-elected in Clacton, Essex. The party also came second place in at least 90 constituencies across the country.

Farage has criticised the electoral system, saying: "I think there'll be lots and lots of Ukip voters out there very angry that they're not going to be represented and I think our system is biased.

"However we've got a Conservative majority government, by the looks of it, which means not terribly much is going to change."

Earlier, a Ukip spokesman had told the Daily Mirror that the contest would be "very tight", while Farage's wife said the election had gone "not as well as we hoped".

The Daily Telegraph reported this morning that Farage's aides had been trying to stop him resigning if he lost. Patrick O'Flynn, the party's general election campaign director, told the newspaper "‎I will try to persuade Nigel to change his mind and stay on if he just misses out in Thanet."

Earlier in the night, Ukip came second in the first three constituencies to declare, all safe Labour seats in the Sunderland area. A Ukip spokesman said this showed that it was on course to implement its "2020 strategy", in which it positioned itself as the primary opposition to Labour in northern England.

But Farage appeared tense during a TV interview last night. He "took a swipe at two of Britain's best-selling newspapers before bizarrely cutting short an interview", ITV News reports. "Mr Farage told Rohit Kachroo: 'I want to congratulate the editors of The Sun and the Daily Mail, they're geniuses. They said the Ukip vote would split the Tory vote – God help us.'"

At that point he walked away, and refused to answer questions from other broadcasters waiting nearby.

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