Diane James has quit as UKIP leader after just 18 days
UKIP’s new leader Diane James has stepped down after just 18 days.
Ms James became leader despite being an unlikely favourite, winning support from former leader Nigel Farage and party funders.
She won after deputy leader Paul Nuttall refused to join the leadership contest, and after the second favourite in the running Steven Woolfe was disqualified.
In a statement, Ms James said since her election “it has become clear that I do not have sufficient authority, nor the full support of all my MEP colleagues and party officers to implement changes I believe necessary and upon which I based my campaign.
“For personal and professional reasons therefore I will not take the election process further.”
Saying it would be her “final media statement on the issue”, the MEP added: “I will continue to concentrate fully on my activities and responsibilities as an elected UKIP Member of the European Parliament”.
It is expected that Mr Farage will face fresh calls to step back up as leader, despite his assertion that he would not do so.
Mr Farage stepped down as the leader of the UK Independence Party, declaring that he wanted his “life back” after helping lead the country to vote for Brexit.
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At UKIP conference, 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 meant 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 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”.