Diane James has quit as Ukip leader just 18 days into her leadership after being spat at on train platform – paving the way for Steven Woolfe to take over (but Farage says he wouldn’t come back for 10m dollars)
- Diane James has sensationally quit as Ukip leader after just 18 days in role
- Senior source confirmed rumours swirling Westminster tonight ‘were true’
- Ms James took over Ukip with promise to ‘wipe the slate clean’ after rows
- Married 56-year-old’s reasons for leaving are not yet known but there are reports she is ‘deeply unhappy for personal reasons about her new role’
- Nigel Farage is technically still the party’s leader despite resigning twice
Diane James has sensationally quit as Ukip leader tonight just 18 days after winning the race to succeed Nigel Farage.
Party sources said the 51-year-old had been ‘deeply unhappy’ in her new role and had given up because of personal reasons.
Reports suggest she ‘shaken’ after being spat at on a train on her way to Cardiff last week, and did not feel she had assurances from some members of her party.
Bookies immediately installed Mr Farage at 10-1 to make an extraordinary return to the helm of the Eurosceptic party that has been riven by infighting since the referendum.
But he said tonight that he would not return for ‘ten million dollars’. Asked if he would take $20 million, he insisted: ‘No I’m not coming back, I’m really retired.’
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Diane James has sensationally quit as Ukip leader tonight just 18 days after winning the race to succeed Nigel Farage. Party sources said the 51-year-old had been ‘deeply unhappy’ in the role
Bookies immediately installed Mr Farage at 10-1 to make an extraordinary return to the helm of the Eurosceptic party but he said tonight that he would not return for ‘ten million dollars’
Ms James took over Ukip less than three weeks ago with a promise to ‘wipe the slate clean’ after a summer of bitter rows.
She was seen as Mr Farage’s pick for the post after he resigned on the back of Brexit success – insisting he wanted to get his ‘life back’ after decades hammering at the political establishment.
But insiders claim Ms James never really wanted the role and when signed her official declaration with V.C., signifying Vi coactus the Latin term for under duress.
Ukip appeared in chaos at Ms James’ apparent resignation tonight and senior sources in the party were unavailable.
Earlier today party figures held crisis talks with her in attempt to persuade her not to stand down.
But she is said to have insisted because of her unhappiness in the role and personal issues including the illness of her partner.
Ms James, who had dinner with Mr Farage in Strasbourg before announcing her resignation, reportedly felt ‘shaken’ after being spat at on a train on her way to Cardiff last week, The Times reported.
She is said to have been reluctant to continue leading the party without assurances about funding and had complained about Ukip’s finances, the newspaper reported.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 campaignStatement from Diane James
In a statement announcing her decision to step down tonight, she said: ‘It is with great regret that I announce that I will not be formalising my recent nomination to become the new leader of the party with the Electoral Commission.
‘Having won the enthusiastic support of party members, I was nominated by them as the new leader. Since that time 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.
‘For personal and professional reasons, therefore, I will not take the election process further.
‘I will continue to concentrate fully on my activities and responsibilities as an elected UKIP Member of the European Parliament for SE UK Region.
‘This is my final media statement on this issue.’
Diane James has sensationally quit as Ukip leader tonight just 18 days after winning the race
Steven Woolfe (right) – who was left out of the summer contest after failing to submit his membership papers on time – is the bookmakers’ early favourite. Other candidates could be Suzanne Evans (left), barred from the summer contest, or Bill Etheridge who finished third
Ms James was seen having a heated debate with fellow MEPs in a café at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this afternoon.
She is understood to have fled to her hotel room before later cancelling a planned speech in the chamber at the last minute.
A Ukip spokesman refused to confirm or deny whether Ms James had stood down, but a senior source told MailOnline rumours of the resignation were ‘true’.
The party’s only MP Douglas Carswell insisted he knew nothing on Twitter and would not interrupt his dinner to find out.
After being contacted about the resignation, he said: ‘In the middle of supper. Not taking calls about UKIP stuff. It’s shepherds pie, by the way.’
He added to MailOnline: ‘I’m both sad and surprised, I hope she’s OK.’
Married 56-year-old Diane James waves as she is introduced at the UKIP Autumn Conference less than three weeks ago
In a further bizarre twist, it appeared Ms James may never have been officially installed as party leader by the election’s watchdog.
Yesterday, the Electoral Commission confirmed to HuffPost UK it had not received the paperwork from Ukip confirming James was the party’s new leader.
A spokesman said: ‘We have been in contact with UKIP and are expecting the party’s leadership change to be confirmed shortly.’
The failure to send the proper paperwork to the Electoral Commission could mean Mr Farage is technically still Ukip leader tonight despite the fact he has resigned twice in 18 months.
Ms James’ early departure has raised speculation that her predecessor Mr Farage could make a return.
However, bookmakers have placed him at 10/1 odds to make a comeback, with Steven Woolfe – who was left out of the summer contest after failing to submit his membership papers on time – the early favourite. Other candidates could be Suzanne Evans, barred from the summer contest, or Bill Etheridge, who finished a distant third last time out.
Ms Evans confirmed that her suspension from Ukip had been lifted, clearing the way for her to enter any leadership race.
But she declined to say whether she was considering throwing her hat into the ring, telling PA: ‘I think we all need to see what happens over the next few hours.’
She added: ‘There is not a contest yet. I’m unable therefore to rule anything in or out.’
Earlier today party figures held crisis talks with Ms James in attempt to persuade her not to stand down. She is pictured alongside Nigel Farage after being appointed just 18 days ago
Nigel Farage made a triumphant final appearance as Ukip leader at Party conference on September 16 but tonight ruled out returning as party leader saying you ‘couldn’t pay him’