UKIP leader Nigel Farage explains why he quit

  • 05/07/2016
Nigel Farage (Getty)
Nigel Farage (Getty)

The leader of Britain's insurgent right-wing populist UK Independence Party has announced he is stepping down after realising his ambition to win a vote for Britain to leave the EU, punching another hole in the country's chaotic politics.

The departure of brash former commodities trader Nigel Farage will sideline one of the most outspoken and effective anti-EU campaigners from the debate about how to sever Britain's ties with the other 27 countries in the bloc.

But it could also give his party - which won just one seat in parliament last year despite placing a strong third - an opportunity to select a less-polarising figure and take on the mainstream in what is likely to be a radically altered political environment.

Both of Britain's two main political parties are in disarray following the vote to leave the EU, with the ruling Conservatives seeking a replacement for Prime Minister David Cameron and lawmakers from the main opposition Labour Party voting to withdraw confidence in leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"I have never been, and I have never wanted to be, a career politician. My aim in being in politics was to get Britain out of the European Union," Mr Farage told reporters.

"During the referendum campaign, I said, 'I want my country back'. What I'm saying today, is, 'I want my life back', and it begins right now."

The acrimonious leadership battles in the main political parties have added to uncertainty at a time when Britain is embarking on its biggest constitutional change since the dissolution of its empire in the decades after World War II.

The government, which failed to convince voters that a Leave vote would cause economic harm, is now racing to reduce the damage.

George Osborne, the finance minister, has abandoned his target of balancing the budget within four years and floated the idea on Sunday of a quick cut in corporate tax to 15 percent from 20 percent. The opposition Labour Party accused him of trying to turn Britain into an offshore tax haven.

This week the Conservatives will start the process of whittling down the candidates to succeed Mr Cameron, who has said he would leave it to his successor to withdraw from the EU.

Theresa May, a party stalwart who has run the law-and-order portfolio in the cabinet for six years, is the favourite to succeed Mr Cameron despite having campaigned to remain in the EU.

Four other candidates include Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a Leave campaigner who caused political drama last week by turning against his ally, former London mayor Boris Johnson, driving him from the race.