Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the country’s most prominent crusader against the European Union, abruptly announced Monday that he will be stepping down as UKIP leader.
Farage has led UKIP for most of the past eight years, but in a surprise statement Monday he said that with the UK having voted to leave the EU two weeks ago, he had achieved all his political ambitions and had no desire to stick around.
“I have never been, and I have never wanted to be, a career politician,” Farage said in a speech announcing his departure. “My aim in being in politics was to get Britain out of the European Union … That is why I now feel that I’ve done my bit, that I couldn’t possibly achieve more than we managed to get in that referendum.”
But Farage’s withdrawal from politics won’t be total. With Britain still in the EU for now, Farage remains a member of the European Parliament, and he said that he would speak there “from time to time.” He also said he would lend his support to EU withdrawal movements in other countries, “because I’m certain of one thing, you haven’t seen the last country that wants to leave the EU.” (RELATED: Farage Does Victory Lap In European Parliament)
Farage previously tried to quit as UKIP leader following the 2015 election, only to later change his mind. This time, he said, there’s no chance he’ll turn back.
“During the referendum campaign, I said ‘I want my country back,'” he said. “What I’m saying today is ‘I want my life back,’ and it begins right now.” He said he would not be backing any particular candidate to succeed him as UKIP leader.
This makes UKIP the third major UK political party to go through a leadership crisis in the wake of Brexit. Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party, who opposed Brexit, has already announced that he will step down later this year, and the dogfight to succeed him is ongoing. Meanwhile, the Labour Party is in even more severe turmoil, as leader Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party was overwhelmingly rejected in a no-confidence vote by Labour MPs, but has refused to step down.
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