Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall has been elected the party’s leader in a contest to replace Nigel Farage.
The election was the second in the space of a few months, following previous victor Diane James’s decision to step down after just 18 days in the job.
Mr Nuttall took 62.6% of the vote, beating former deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans, and ex-soldier John Rees-Evans.
The new leader has been MEP for North West England since 2009 and has served as Ukip’s chairman and deputy leader.
Born on Merseyside, he is regarded as well-placed to poach northern working-class voters from Labour.
Of the 32,757 ballot papers sent out, 15,405 were returned with the lion’s share going to Mr Nuttall, while Ms Evans secured 19.3% of the vote, and 18.1% went to Mr Rees-Evans.
Mr Nuttall promised to unite Ukip and “hold the Government’s feet to the
fire” over the delivery of Brexit.
“The country needs a strong Ukip more now than ever before, for if Ukip
ceases to be an electoral force, there will be no impetus on Theresa May
and her Government to give us real Brexit and we will end up with some
mealy-mouthed, backsliding version,” he said.
“This will be a betrayal of the British people and a united Ukip under
my leadership will never, ever allow that to happen.”
He made clear his sights are on poaching votes from Labour, arguing that
the party under Jeremy Corbyn was more interested in “dinner party”
topics like climate change and fair trade than the interests of their
working class voters, such as immigration and social mobility.
“I want to replace the Labour Party and make Ukip the voice of patriotic
Britain,” he said.
“Ukip’s future is bright but for it to be so, Ukip must unite. Today’s
result has ensured that it will.”
Mr Farage agreed that the new leader should focus on winning votes from
Labour, arguing that there were seats from the Midlands to the North
where a majority of Labour supporters voted for Brexit.
“Old Labour voters have absolutely nowhere else to go other than to come
to Ukip,” said the outgoing leader.
Mr Farage promised not to be “a back seat driver” but promised he would
be available to offer support to the new leader if asked.
He said he would serve out his term in the European Parliament until
But more imminently, he was this week “going off to the USA – but you
will understand, purely as a tourist”.
Mr Farage warned: “If there isn’t a significant electoral threat – and
that can only frankly come from Ukip – then the chances are that what we
voted for in that referendum will now be significantly watered down.
That must not be allowed to happen.”
The outgoing leader said Ukip was in a good position to thrive under its
“I think everything is to play for and I am happy and confident that I’m
handing this over at a good time,” he said.