Defeated Farage quits as leader

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Published: Friday 8th May 2015 by The News Editor

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Nigel Farage has resigned as Ukip leader after finishing second in Thanet South, telling activists “I’m a man of my word” after promising defeat would force him to quit.

But Mr Farage raised the prospect he would consider running to return to the job after a summer off when the contest is held in September.

Mr Farage said he would recommend Suzanne Evans, the deputy chairman, be a stand-in leader until the leadership challenge is complete.

Mr Farage said in his earlier concession speech that an “enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders”, adding that he had “never felt happier”.

Announcing his resignation, he said: “I’m a man of my word, I shall be writing to the Ukip national executive in a few minutes, saying I am standing down as leader of Ukip.

“I shall recommend that … they put in place as acting leader Suzanne Evans who I think has emerged from this campaign as an absolute tower of strength within Ukip.”

He added: “Personally, there’s a bit of me that is disappointed but there is a bit of me that feels better than I have felt for many, many years.

“It really has been seven days a week, totally unrelenting, and occasionally let down by people who perhaps haven’t said and done the right things.

“I haven’t had a fortnight’s holiday since October 1993. I intend to take the summer off, enjoy myself a bit.

“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.”

Conservative Craig Mackinlay won Thanet South by almost 3,000 votes, racking up 18,838 to Mr Farage’s 16,026.

The result leaves Ukip with just one MP – Douglas Carswell, who held Clacton on a reduced majority.

Mark Reckless, who along with Mr Carswell defected from the Tories last year and won a by-election, lost Rochester and Strood.

In his concession speech at the count, Mr Farage railed against an electoral system which handed the SNP 56 seats and Ukip one, on broadly comparable vote tallies.

He joked that compared with the last election – when he was in intensive care following an air crash – he felt “pretty good”.

Mr Farage added: “There was an earthquake in this election. It happened in Scotland, and I think what you saw were a lot of voters so scared of that Labour-SNP coalition that they shifted towards the Conservatives.

“That included some of the people here who voted Ukip last time round.

“But I saw another shift in this election and I saw Ukip the party, apparently the party for retired old colonels, suddenly the party for people under 30, particularly young working women. There is a big change going on in politics.”

Mr Farage offered his congratulations to David Cameron for winning a majority, saying it was “something nobody thought was possible”.

Published: Friday 8th May 2015 by The News Editor

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