Nigel Farage takes interim Ukip gig: 'I keep trying to escape...'
Ukip has been rocked by the news of Diane James' shock resignation.
Nigel Farage is a “great man” who will do “whatever is in the best interest of Ukip”, the party’s chairman insisted after the shock resignation of Diane James.
Initially, Farage struck a rather different tone. As the news broke on Tuesday evening, Farage told the Press Association that he would not return as Ukip leader “for $10 million”.
Asked if he’d take $20m, he replied: “No I’m not coming back. I’m retired.”
But a few hours later it emerged that Farage would be Ukip's interim leader. He told BBC News: "I keep trying to escape, I keep getting over the wall and running for the hills, and before I'm finally free they drag me back."
Ukip has been rocked by the news of James resigning after just 18 days in the post. In a statement released on Tuesday night, she said she would step down for personal and professional reasons.
“It has become clear I do not have sufficient authority, nor the full support of MEP colleagues and party officers to implement the changes I believe are necessary and upon which I based my campaign,” she said.
A party source said that James was also unhappy about having been spat at in an incident at Waterloo station.
Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, UKIP chairman Paul Oakden said he would check with the Electoral Commission to see who the party leader was and admitted it could technically be Farage.
Asked whether Farage could return, he said: "Nigel is a great man. He has the party at his core and he will do as he has always done. Whatever is in the best interest of Ukip. He will be ready to serve, I have no doubt, in whatever way he can in what, let's face it, will be a challenging couple of months."
Pressed on whether Farage could be Ukip leader again, Oakden said it was "very unlikely" but added: "I wouldn't say anything is impossible."
Raheem Kassam, the former chief of staff to Farage who left after the election, has confirmed he will himself run for the leadership. Immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe is also said to be ready to stand, while Suzanne Evans and Lisa Duffy, who lost to James in the leadership contest, have not ruled it out.