News is emerging tonight that Diane James MEP has resigned as leader of the UK Independence Party just 18 days after being elected.
Details are unclear at this time, but it’s thought that Ms. James has resigned for “personal reasons”, with Sky News reporter Darren McCaffrey citing her husband’s ill health as the cause. Raheem Kassam, a former UKIP campaign aide and editor-in-chief of Breitbart London, has tweeted that “two senior UKIP sources” have informed him of Ms. James’s resignation. Kassam also tweeted that he emailed Ms. James directly regarding the rumours, and was met with an automated response saying the account he emailed had been hacked and no longer in use.
Ms. James was elected leader of the party on September 16th during the party’s autumn conference beating runner-up Lisa Duffy by approximately 4,000 votes and caused sensation by changing the agenda within a matter of hours of being elected. Ms. James removed her fellow leadership candidates from the schedule as well as UKIP Welsh Assembly member and former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton.
Breitbart London reports that Steven Woolfe MEP, the party’s immigration spokesman who was blocked by the party’s National Executive Committee last time, is thought to be interested, and “party sources” are also mentioning its London Mayoral candidate and London Assembly Member Peter Whittle as a potential runner. It’s understood that former leader Nigel Farage has told LBC Radio that he is not ruling out the possibility of returning as leader.
In comparison to Mr Farage, who is still making regular media appearances regarding Brexit and the US Presidential Election, Ms. James has been conspicuous by her absence since her election as leader, making few media appearances and avoided reporters at the conference in Bournemouth.
This is a developing story and we are awaiting a formal confirmation from both UKIP and Ms James herself.