Wednesday 20 March 2019

'I've done my bit, I want my life back' - Farage as he quits

Ukip leader Nigel Farage resigns at a press conference at The Emmanuel Centre in London yesterday. Photo: Getty
Ukip leader Nigel Farage resigns at a press conference at The Emmanuel Centre in London yesterday. Photo: Getty

Steven Swinford and Kate McCann

Nigel Farage has stepped down as Ukip leader and said that he wants his "life back" after admitting that the role has come at a significant "cost" to him and his family.

The Ukip leader, who is 52, said yesterday he felt he had "done his bit" after helping win the EU referendum for the Leave side and now hoped to return to an "ordinary life".

Speaking after announcing his resignation, Mr Farage said he hoped to emulate John Major by finding "contentment" in his hobbies.

He said: "I was thinking to myself last night that I don't think I have had a television programme uninterrupted for four years. There's no normal life at all. I don't think people realise that if you're taking on the establishment, life is made pretty tough for you.

"I'm going to spend more time doing the things I want to do. I want to pursue hobbies, I want to have a normal life. I'm a keen angler and I like watching cricket. I like visiting France and I have a particular interest in military history.

"This has been a big decision. I genuinely don't think I could have done more in politics in terms of achieving my goals. I have been thinking very hard since the referendum result. What more could I do?

"When I met John Major and had a cup of tea with him at Lord's a couple of years ago he struck me as being a very contented man - happy with himself and what he had done."

Read more: Nigel Farage leaves legacy of success and controversy

Read more: 'I want my life back' - Nigel Farage to stand down as head of Ukip

Mr Farage's announcement at a press conference yesterday shocked Ukip supporters and comes after six years as leader. He said: "During the referendum campaign I said I want my country back. What I am saying today is I want my life back."

Mr Farage insisted that his decision to step down is final after he was reappointed just days after resigning after last year's general election. "This time I mean it, I'm not coming back," he said.

Douglas Carswell, Ukip's only MP, who fell out with Mr Farage and called on him to resign at the end of last year, reacted to news of his resignation by tweeting a smiling emoji with sunglasses.

Mr Farage said: "Well I'm pleased that he's smiling, because that's not something I've seen very often."

Suzanne Evans, a close ally of Mr Carswell who was suspended for six months after speaking out against allegations of homophobia, said she wanted to run as leader to "clean up" the party. However, Steven Woolfe, Ukip's immigration spokesman, and Paul Nuttall, the party's deputy leader, are in prime position to take over.

Mr Farage suggested that Ukip would not take on Tory MPs who campaigned for a Brexit in the election in 2020 and he said that standing for Westminster was "not on my bucket list".

He said the decision to quit had not been easy.

"I do feel a degree of part-ownership of the Ukip brand and the journey we've been on. I think right now it's the right thing to do," he said.

The new leader will be in place by Ukip's conference in September but Mr Farage insisted he would keep "very quiet" about his potential successor.

He added that he would keep up the pressure in Brussels as an MEP. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Nigel Farage in Quotes

On his second resignation as Ukip leader: “During the referendum campaign, I said, ‘I want my country back’ and what I’m saying today is, ‘I want my life back’”

On EU referendum result: “June the 23rd needs to become a national bank holiday, and we will call it Independence Day.”

During the EU referendum campaign: “The more exposure I get, those that would never vote for me anyway get angrier and angrier. But amongst the undecideds, no. I can persuade them. I am a voice that can sway some of those undecideds.”

On the lunchtime pint: “As I always say to people, I worked damned hard right up until lunchtime every day!”

On his cancer diagnosis: “That fury was so overwhelming. I don’t know whether every cancer sufferer feels the same way, whether you are 21, 41 or 82. But I certainly did.”

On maternity leave: “Maybe it’s because I’ve got so many women pregnant over the years that I have a different view [of maternity leave].”

On abstinence: “There’s certainly only one thing I could never agree with George Galloway on. He’s a teetotaller and wants to close all the bars in the House of Commons. That is just not on.”

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