8 May 2015

Nigel Farage resigns as Ukip leader after election failure

After failing to win the South Thanet seat, Ukip leader Nigel Farage admits to disappointment on a professional level but says that on a personal level he has “never felt happier”.

Nigel Farage today confirmed he would be stepping down as Ukip leader after failing to win Thanet South from the Conservatives.

In a statement, Mr Farage criticised the “first past the post” voting system as bankrupt and said electoral reform would make British politics “more open, more honest, and we would see some real, real debate.”

He concluded: “I’m a man of my word – and I don’t break my word. So I shall be writing to the Ukip national executive in a few minutes and saying that I am standing down as leader of Ukip.”

‘Weight lifted from my shoulders’

Speaking earlier, after his failed bid to win the South Thanet parliamentary seat, Nigel Farage said: “On a professional level, I express today a degree of disappointment.

“On a personal level, I feel an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and I’ve never felt happier.”

After a delayed count, Mr Farage polled 16,026 votes, losing by almost 3,000 votes to the Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay.

‘Earthquake’ north of the border

Mr Farage congratulated David Cameron on securing a majority for the Conservative party, and said the country had seen an “earthquake” north of the border, where the SNP nearly swept the board.

“What you saw were a lot of voters so scared of that Labour-NSP coalition that they shifted towards the Conservatives – and that included some of the people here who voted Ukip last time around.”

He said that Ukip had become the party for “people under 30 – particularly young working women”.

‘Time for reform’

Farage touched on what is likely to be one of the main subjects for analysis in the wake of this election – the fact that parties such as Ukip and the Greens have managed to secure the votes of around 5 million people, yet will only be represented by two MPs in parliament.

“We’ve got a party in Britain who got 50 per cent of the vote in one of the regions and nearly 100 per cent of the seats. And we’ve got another party that scored nearly as many votes – 4 million – as well as the European elections last year, that has finished up with one seat in parliament.

“And I think the time has come for real, genuine, radical political reform – and it’s Ukip that’ll be the party that leads it.”

Disappointing night

The South Thanet result is the culmination of a disappointing night for Ukip, which campaigns for Britain to leave the European Union.

With nearly all the results in, the party has only one parliamentary seat, that of Douglas Carswell, who held on to the Clacton seat he won in October 2014 after his defection from the Conservative party.

Mark Reckless, another defector to Ukip from the Conservative party, was ousted from his Rochester and Strood seat by the Conservative candidate.