Nigel Farage steps in as interim UKIP leader after Diane James quits

MEP is back in charge after James steps down just 18 days into the job

Nigel Farage steps in as interim UKIP leader after Diane James quits

Diane James celebrates with Nigel Farage after being named as the new leader of UKIP | Photo: PA Images

Nigel Farage has said he will step in as interim UKIP leader after Diane James quit the job after just 18 days in charge.

But even as he serves as acting leader, the MEP ruled out re-applying on a permanent basis for what he called a "rotten job".

Mr Farage told Sky News: "Diane James did not become officially, legally the leader of UKIP, so my name is still there so I will continue as the acting leader of UKIP whilst we re-do the election process.

"I've done my bit, it's a pretty rotten job being leader of any political party and I think being leader of UKIP is probably more rotten than all the others. 

"It is time for someone else to do the job."

He also said he was sorry Ms James decided to stand down, adding she "had all the right qualities" to do the job. 

"I've watched her come into the party, grow through the party, I thought she was one of our better performers on television and radio platforms," he said.

Looking to the future of the party, Mr Farage said he would like to see the better known names in UKIP standing in the leadership contest.

Earlier, he told reporters: "No, I'm not coming back, I'm retired. Not for 10 million dollars."

Resignation

Ms James became the party's first female leader on September 16th after a landslide victory in the leadership contest.

In a statement, she said it was with "great regret" and the decision was down to "personal and professional reasons".

Ms James said she would not be "formalising my recent nomination to become leader of the party with the Electoral Commission".

She added: "I have been in discussion with party officers about the role.

"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."

Ms James, MEP for South East England, was catapulted to frontrunner in the UKIP race after deputy leader Paul Nuttall refused to join the contest and second favourite Steven Woolfe was disqualified after he submitted his nomination papers late.

UKIP's only MP, Douglas Carswell, said he was "sad and surprised" by Ms James' announcement, adding: "I hope she's alright."