Diane James is new UKIP leader after exit of Farage
- Author: Darren Santiago Sep 18, 2016,
Sep 18, 2016, 0:24
Diane James has been named as the new leader of Ukip, taking over from Nigel Farage.
"So, if ever a man was out to leave British politics, that's it". She resisted calls for an immediate meeting with him, saying it should wait a few days.
But within an hour of her leadership victory she took the decision to wipe Neil Hamilton from Saturday's agenda for the party's annual conference, which is being held in Bournemouth.
She was elected to the European Parliament as an MEP for South-East England in 2014, as part of the political "earthquake" achieved as Ukip became the first non-mainstream party in modern times to win a national election in the UK.
With Brexit on the horizon, UKIP can not survive unless it broadens its platform beyond Europe, even though Diane James based her leadership campaign on this topic.
"Without us there would have been no referendum, without you and the people's army there would have been no ground campaign", he said, as the crowd of mostly older supporters waved Union Jack flags. Obviously the party have to stop warfare and reunite behind her.
James promised to make UKIP push the government to achieve a "true, 100% European Union exit" amid rumours of the possibility of a so-called "Brexit light" deal with the bloc.
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".
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".
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Farage said he would not be leaving politics but was "going to engage in a political life without leading a political party". James defeated four other candidates in a ballot of party members.
She came well ahead of fellow European Parliament members Jonathan Arnott and Bill Etheridge, local authority councillor Lisa Duffy and party executives Elizabeth Jones and Phillip Broughton.
"In the aftermath of the vote for Brexit, the party has become seriously divided between separate factions and might also struggle to sustain public support from social conservatives in the new political landscape", he told AFP.
And despite generally impressing journalists as one of UKIP's best media performers, the former businesswoman and health consultant came under fire last April after telling LBC's Iain Dale she "admired" Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Farage was replaced as Ukip leader by Diane James on Friday.
As she took to the stage to take over from Mr Farage as the party's new leader, Ms James paid tribute to his work.
The government's new slant under May has "restricted political space for the populist right", he added.
It polled the third highest number of votes in the 2015 general election after the Conservative and Labour parties.