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A Former Tory Who Once Praised Putin: Meet New Ukip Leader Diane James, The Woman Elected To Replace Nigel Farage With A 'Laser Focus' On Brexit





Ms James waved to the Ukip faithful after the result was announced but the atmosphere in the room was muted at the conference in Bournemouth
  • Five candidates entered race to replace Farage - but big names missed out
  • Farage says he is 'not going away' on final day of his Ukip leadership
  • Will hand over to new leader at party's conference later today
  • But Ukip is heavily divided and senior aide has defected to Tories 

Diane James was elected Ukip leader by a landslide today, replacing Nigel Farage at the head of the Eurosceptic party and immediately setting out her Brexit demands.

In a triumphant victory speech after securing 8,451 votes, Ms James said Britain had on June 23 the honour of winning the first 'heat' in an 'Olympic competition' between 28 states to quit the EU.

And she set out 'red lines' for Brexit, including tough new rules on immigration based on skills and 'social values'. 

Ms James, who rose to prominence as a Ukip by-election candidate three years ago, said there could be no form of acceptable 'associate membership' of the trading bloc as she demanded Theresa May 'stop the fudge' on what Brexit means.

Little known councillor Lisa Duffy was beaten into second place after securing 4,591 votes in the contest, which missed several of the party's biggest names.

In an effort to move Ukip on from its dominant previous leader and chronic civil war, Ms James said: 'I'm not Nigel-like, I'm not even Nigel-lite - and I will never, ever pretend to be so.' 

Diane James was elected Ukip leader by a landslide today, replacing Nigel Farage at the head of the Eurosceptic party after securing 8,451 votes - but the result did not stop her getting caught in an awkward clinch with her successor 

Diane James was elected Ukip leader by a landslide today, replacing Nigel Farage at the head of the Eurosceptic party after securing 8,451 votes - but the result did not stop her getting caught in an awkward clinch with her successor 

The result was announced after Mr Farage warned the Ukip faithful they could 'lose the peace' and allow Theresa May to impose a 'soft Brexit' if they cannot end their infighting

The result was announced after Mr Farage warned the Ukip faithful they could 'lose the peace' and allow Theresa May to impose a 'soft Brexit' if they cannot end their infighting

Ms James's huge victory came after a bitter leadership contest which missed several of the party's biggest names. Ms James took part in no hustings alongside her rivals. 

Today's announcement came after months of angry infighting between different factions divided by the tactics of the EU referendum.

Her first hours in the job were marred by a row about Ms James' decision to remove controversial ex-Tory from the conference agenda.  

 

Ms James had been backed by Mr Farage but her appointment will infuriate many in Ukip - including the party's only MP Douglas Carswell. 

UKIP RESULTS IN FULL 

Diane James won 47 per cent of the vote in the leadership contest - despite taking part in none of the party hustings.

Ukip has around 40,0000 members - meaning less than half of them took part amid speculation many are eager for Mr Farage to reverse his resignation. 

The Ukip leadership result in full:

Diane James - 8,451

Lisa Duffy - 4,591

Bill Etheridge - 2,052

Philip Broughton - 1,545 

Elizabeth Jones - 1203

After her victory, Ms James turned immediately to Brexit and said: 'We cannot take our eye off that important elephant in the room, can we? I'm not even going to talk about battles and wars, I'm going to talk about heats and races and getting over the winning line.

'We only just won a heat, a heat in a 28-member Olympic competition to leave the European Union.

'And I am very, very grateful and I appreciate all of the other countries that are now looking to Britain and hoping to emulate what we have done here in their own countries. 

'But the UK signature ink is not yet dry on that document. And until it's dry on that document, to every single interviewer you talk to, to every single Remainiak that talks to you, just remind them that until we get a signature, until that ink is dry, we're still in, they still tell us what to do, they still boss us about.' 

Ms James waved to the Ukip faithful after the result was announced but the atmosphere in the room was muted at the conference in Bournemouth 

Ms James waved to the Ukip faithful after the result was announced but the atmosphere in the room was muted at the conference in Bournemouth 

Ms James joined Ukip in 2011 and shot to national prominence in 2013 when she fought the parliamentary by-election in Eastleigh, Hampshire, resulting from the downfall of Cabinet minister Chris Huhne, who was jailed for lying about a speeding offence.

THEY WILL BE MY DECISIONS! DIANE JAMES ADMITS SHE'LL CONSULT FARAGE  

Diane James today denied Nigel Farage would be the 'back seat driver' in her leadership.

But the new Ukip leader admitted she would consult Mr Farage and there would be 'help running between us'.

Speaking at a press conference after her landslide victory, she said: 'I will be seeking his opinions - I'm going to be honest about that - why wouldn't I.

'The legacy he has bequeathed to this party, the knowledge he has got, I would be absolutely nuts not to.

'But I'm not going to have him as a back seat driver. I will consult him but I will make my own decisions.' 

Asked if she would stand aside for a Farage revival, Ms James did not fully rule out the prospect. 

She came close to taking the seat from the Liberal Democrats, coming second with 27.8% - less than 2,000 votes behind the winning candidate.

Ms James, 56, was elected to the European Parliament as an MEP for South-East England in 2014, as part of the political 'earthquake' achieved as Ukip became the first non-mainstream party in modern times to win a national election in the UK.

She was appointed Ukip's deputy chairwoman and home affairs spokeswoman, but stood aside from a planned bid to become an MP in the general election in 2015 for 'personal reasons', after being selected as candidate for North West Hampshire.

Ms James raised some eyebrows in a 2015 interview by declaring her admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin, describing him as 'a strong leader' who stands up for his country.

The result was announced to a muted atmosphere in Bournemouth after Mr Farage warned the Ukip faithful they could 'lose the peace' after 'winning the war of Brexit, allowing Mrs May to impose a 'soft Brexit' if they cannot end their infighting.

Ms James accused the Conservative Party of stealing many of Ukip's policies and branded the Prime Minister 'Magpie May'.

Ms James said: 'Magpie May you have stolen so far our 2% defence spending, you've also tried to steal our grammar schools but I think you are going to have a few difficulties getting that one through.'

She warned Ukip MEPs will continue 'being the thorn' in the side of the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

And stressed that Britain does not want 'Brexit-lite', insisting the UK should leave the single market and put a stop to the free movement of people.

Diane James was elected Ukip leader by a landslide today, replacing Nigel Farage at the head of the Eurosceptic party after securing 8,451 votes.

Diane James was elected Ukip leader by a landslide today, replacing Nigel Farage at the head of the Eurosceptic party after securing 8,451 votes.

In his own speech earlier, Mr Farage said Ukip needed to be 'healthy' to secure a 'hard Brexit' as he slammed what he claimed was a 'soft' approach from Mrs May's Government.

A FORMER TORY WHO PRAISED PUTIN: THE NEW UKIP LEADER DIANE JAMES 

Ukip's new leader Diane James is the first woman to lead the eurosceptic party and a close ally of her predecessor Nigel Farage.

Her first challenge will be to restore unity to a party which has been riven by what a defecting activist described as a 'Venn diagram' of factions.

The front-runner throughout the leadership campaign, Ms James was backed by supporters of Mr Farage and Ukip's millionaire funder Arron Banks, who predicted the party would be 'dead in the water' if she was defeated.

But she must now work out how to bring together an array of prominent figures jostling for influence within the party, from Ukip's only MP Douglas Carswell to would-be leaders Steven Woolfe and Suzanne Evans - both barred from standing - runner-up Lisa Duffy and Welsh Assembly member Neil Hamilton.

Her refusal to take part in hustings debates with rivals during the leadership contest was seen by some as a sign of lack of enthusiasm for the role, but she insisted she was better able to press her case talking to activists directly.

After a career in the healthcare sector, Ms James first won election to Waverley Borough Council in Surrey as an independent in 2007 after becoming 'disillusioned' with the Conservatives.

She switched to Ukip in 2011 and shot to national prominence in 2013 when she fought and almost won the parliamentary by-election in Eastleigh, Hampshire, resulting from the downfall of Cabinet minister Chris Huhne, who was jailed for lying about a speeding offence.

Ms James, 56, was elected to the European Parliament as an MEP for South-East England in 2014, as part of the political 'earthquake' achieved as Ukip became the first non-mainstream party in modern times to win a national election in the UK.

She was appointed Ukip's deputy chairwoman and home affairs spokeswoman, but stood aside from a planned bid to become an MP in the general election in 2015 for 'personal reasons', after being selected as candidate for North West Hampshire.

Ms James raised some eyebrows in a 2015 interview by declaring her admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin, describing him as 'a strong leader' who stands up for his country.

Educated at Rochester Girls Grammar School and Thames Valley University, she is a keen dancer who also lists antiques among her interests and speaks French and German. 

In a valedictory address to conference in Bournemouth, Mr Farage said: 'We voted to to take back control: simple as that.'

Infighting in the party has reached new depths ahead of the announcement of Mr Farage's replacement later.

One of his former aides has announced they are defecting to the Tories, branding the situation a 'catastrophic mess'.

After being welcomed to the stage as a conquering hero Mr Farage today insisted 'I have done my bit' as the party chooses his successor - but he slammed people who have joined the party to 'meddle' and ferment infighting.

And there are claims that many voters in the leadership contest have spoiled their ballots with pleas for Mr Farage to change his mind and stay on. 

Mr Farage - who departed the stage to David Bowie's Heroes - said he would stay in 'political life' but would now be 'free' to pursue his ambitions without the work load of being a party leader. 

In a triumphant speech to Ukip party conference, Mr Farage claimed: 'Together we changed the course of British history.'

But he warned: 'Half this Cabinet not only failed to support the winning side in this referendum.

'But it seems to me they now want to do their utmost to keep us part of the single market.

'My concern now is with Labour in trouble and with the Conservatives perhaps heading toward 2020 in a very confident and easy position, the temptation will be for the Prime Minister to go for a soft Brexit as opposed to a hard Brexit.

'The only way to stop them is for Ukip to be health, for Ukip to be strong.'

Mr Farage railed against people who entered Ukip for non 'altruistic reasons' and to further their own careers in a plea for the party to halt bitter infighting. 

Mr Farage triumphantly claimed Ukip had disposed of a Prime Minister, Chancellor and a European Commissioner. 

And he vowed to be hand to help the new Ukip leader, whoever is announced as the winner at 1.30pm today.

He said: 'I wish them the very best of luck and my job is not to meddle.

'My job is not to try and influence but my job will be if that leader wants any help and advice then, make no mistake about it, I am still four-square behind this party and its aims.' 

The MEP plans a tour of European capitals in the coming months to assess the mood as he steps up his specific demands on border control and fisheries policy.  

Earlier, Mr Farage used a valedictory round of interviews today to insist he was not leaving the limelight altogether - even suggesting he could appear on reality TV shows.

But he said he had 'done his bit' in charge of the increasingly chaotic Eurosceptic party after helping to deliver the historic Brexit vote in June.

Nigel Farage made a triumphant final appearance as Ukip leader at Party conference today but warned the party faithful they had to unite to pursue a 'hard Brexit' 

Nigel Farage made a triumphant final appearance as Ukip leader at Party conference today but warned the party faithful they had to unite to pursue a 'hard Brexit' 

Mr Farage offered help to the new leader, due to be elected this afternoon, and slammed people who have entered the party to 'meddle' 

Mr Farage offered help to the new leader, due to be elected this afternoon, and slammed people who have entered the party to 'meddle' 

The Ukip leader waved his passport - a frequent image on the referendum campaign trail - one final time in what is his final address as party leader

The Ukip leader waved his passport - a frequent image on the referendum campaign trail - one final time in what is his final address as party leader

Five candidates are vying to take over control of Ukip and the victor will be announced on the first day of the party's annual conference today.

But the gathering has already been marred with a former aide to Mr Farage giving a damning assessment of the party as she announced she is defecting to the Tories.

Alexandra Phillips, Ukip's ex-head of media, said it was in a catastrophic state and the situation was 'irreparable'.

'There are far too many schisms and divisions which I think at this point are irreparable,' told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 

'There are so many factions in Ukip it becomes a Venn diagram, almost, where my enemy's enemy is my friend.

The Ukip faithful gathered in Bournemouth in jubilant mood after the EU referendum but the conference comes amid bitter infighting over the successor to Mr Farage

The Ukip faithful gathered in Bournemouth in jubilant mood after the EU referendum but the conference comes amid bitter infighting over the successor to Mr Farage

Nigel Farage, pictured today arriving at Ukip conference in Bournemouth, announced his resignation as party leader after the historic EU referendum vote for Brexit

Nigel Farage, pictured today arriving at Ukip conference in Bournemouth, announced his resignation as party leader after the historic EU referendum vote for Brexit

'Part of Nigel stepping down was because a lot of things had ground to a halt. Being able to keep the machine oiled and functioning in terms of co-operating and working with the National Executive Committee had all dried up.

'I think Nigel eventually just threw his hands up and went 'Well, what's the point?''

Outgoing deputy leader and Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall said Ukip had been left divided by the EU referendum despite its success in securing it.

In his final speech to the party conference in Bournemouth, Mr Nuttall warned: 'Ukip has not been a happy camp for over a year. Animosity has spread in our midst. No one has emerged from this with their head held high.

'The designation process between Leave.EU and Vote Leave created a cancer in the heart of our party.'

Mr Nuttall said the infighting had led to Ukip being used as a 'political football' by differing factions.

Outgoing deputy leader Paul Nuttall warned the new leader must end the infighting in Ukip (file picture)

Outgoing deputy leader Paul Nuttall warned the new leader must end the infighting in Ukip (file picture)

He said: 'At this present moment, the party resembles a jigsaw that has been emptied onto the floor.

'The new leader must put it back together. The opportunities are there – today is a breakwater in the history of our party.'

'Both Nigel and I are standing down from the stage. Standing down must mean standing down.

'The new leader must be their own person, they must take control of every lever of the party.

'The leader must be a uniter not a divider.'

Mr Nuttall called on the new leader to create a 'Ukip for everyone'. 

Frontrunner Diane James, the most well-known of the contenders, has insisted she will not be 'Nigel-like or Nigel-lite'.

Lisa Duffy, Bill Etheridge, Elizabeth Jones and Phillip Broughton are all also hoping to take the leadership.

Mr Farage told ITV's Good Morning Britain: 'I'm stepping back from the frontline. I'm not retiring, I'm not going away.

'I will support whoever the next leader is. But I will also, for the first time in years, have a bit of a life as well.'

He said he did not want to 'damn' any of the contenders with his support and acknowledged they would find it tough to take over from him.

He told BBC Breakfast: 'Following on from me won't be easy because I've been a bit dominant, and some people like that and some don't.'

Mr Farage, who appeared on stage with Donald Trump in the US last month, will hand over to his successor as Ukip leader at the party's conference in Bournemouth today

Mr Farage, who appeared on stage with Donald Trump in the US last month, will hand over to his successor as Ukip leader at the party's conference in Bournemouth today

Mr Farage, who has clashed repeatedly with the party's ruling National Executive Committee, said that Ukip needed to reform its party structures.

'It is currently run and managed by a National Executive Committee made up of people who've got very little experience of politics,' he said.

'That's a function of where we came from. We were a grassroots party, that's why it was run that way.

'It does need to professionalise and to change, but a new broom sweeps clean. That is a job for the new leader to do.'

Ukip's victory in the European Union referendum has failed to sooth the deep divisions at the heart of the party.

Mr Farage and Ukip's only MP Douglas Carswell have done little to disguise their contempt for each other and the new leader is facing a battle to reunite the party and keep it relevant now that voters have backed Brexit.

The leadership contest has been dogged by chaos as rows over the rules meant that some of the party's best known figures were blocked from standing.

A decision by the NEC meant all candidates had to have been a member of the party for at least five years. It meant Mr Carswell and fellow Conservative defector Mark Reckless were not able to enter the contest.

Suzanne Evans, who was given a six-month suspension from the party in March, wanted to run but said a 'handful of people at the top' had ensured she could not.

Migration spokesman Steven Woolfe was widely expected to take the party's job but his application was rejected by the NEC after it was submitted 17 minutes past the deadline.

The MEP blamed technical difficulties for the delay and supporters claimed he had been the victim of a coup led by Mr Carswell and his allies.


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A Former Tory Who Once Praised Putin: Meet New Ukip Leader Diane James, The Woman Elected To Replace Nigel Farage With A 'Laser Focus' On Brexit
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