UKIP politician Diane James will replace Nigel Farage as party leader, it was announced today.
Mr Farage has stepped down as the leader of the UK Independence Party, declaring that he wants his “life back” after helping lead the country to vote for Brexit.
At UKIP conference this week, he was replaced by political ally Diane James, who saw off competition from fellow MEP Bill Etheridge, councillor Lisa Duffy, and activists Liz Jones and Phillip Broughton.
Her election means that the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties are now the only major UK parties to have never had a female leader.
She previously defended homophobes within the party, insisting there were an “awful lot of people out there” that share the views of MEP Roger Helmer.
Helmer notoriously insisted homosexuality is “not a lifestyle worthy of equal respect” and is “abhorrent to God”.
PinkNews reported last week that Ms James appeared to be trying to play both sides in the election – telling the party’s LGBT group that she’d support equality while telling Christian campaigners she would push to weaken equality laws.
Ms James backed equality in a Q&A with LGBT supporters – insisting she had “no problem at all” with same-sex marriage as “it is now enshrined in UK legislation”.
Ms James said at the time she would support the inclusion of pro-LGBT policies in the party’s manifesto, and appeared critical of the party’s ‘conscience clause’ pledge in 2015 to permit anti-LGBT discrimination.
The MEP said she would “ensure that the right balance is achieved in our next GE manifesto re content, slant and statements on aspects that our opposition will select to continue to use to reinforce [the view UKIP is homophobic]”.
She also suggested the party bolster scrutiny of candidates to weed out homophobes, including “proper process, systems and preparation”.
However, her answers flew in the face of those she gave in a separate Q&A with the group ‘Christian Action UKIP’, which was set up by ‘gay cure’ UKIP candidate Alan Craig.
In that Q&A, Ms James pledged to “extend the legal concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’ to give protection in law to those expressing a religious conscience in the workplace on same-sex marriage”.
She also reaffirmed the party’s Christian Manifesto, which included the controversial ‘conscience clause’ to permit anti-LGBT discrimination, despite telling the LGBT group that “balance” was needed on the same issue.
The MEP also agreed that “we need a much more muscular defence of our Christian heritage” and that UKIP believes “Christianity should be recognised by Government at all levels”.
Elsewhere in the Q&A, Ms James also pledged to “stop sex education in primary schools” and backed “the rights of parents to smack their children within the context of reasonable chastisement.”