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Ukip elects a new leader, its fourth in just over a year

The party elected former army officer Henry Bolton as its new leader.

Henry Bolton, who has been elected as the new Ukip party leader, speaks during the Ukip National Conference.
Henry Bolton, who has been elected as the new Ukip party leader, speaks during the Ukip National Conference.
Image: Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images

THE UK INDEPENDENCE Party (Ukip) has elected a new leader, its fourth in just over a year.

The party elected former army officer Henry Bolton as its new leader, the third elected since Nigel Farage resigned from the party after last year’s Brexit referendum.

“Brexit is our core task. However, it is not the end of the line,” he said after being elected at the party’s annual conference in Torquay in southwest England.

Bolton had earlier warned that Ukip could become the “UK Nazi Party” if it elected another candidate, Anne Marie Waters, who ran on an anti-Islam platform.

The rise of Ukip was one of the main factors behind then-prime minister David Cameron calling an EU membership referendum and was then a powerful driving force behind the successful “Leave” campaign.

The party has riven with tensions since then and some commentators said a party set up to oppose EU membership had lost its reason to exist, particularly after the charismatic Farage stepped down.

Farage was succeeded by Diane James, who stepped down in October last year, just 18 days after winning citing a lack of support within the leadership.

The favourite to replace her, Steven Woolfe, pulled out following an altercation with a fellow MEP at the European Parliament that left him hospitalised.

New leader Paul Nuttall left in June after failing to win a parliamentary seat in a general election.

“Without being united, we cannot lead,” Bolton said.

Farage hailed Bolton’s election saying on Twitter that he was “a man of real substance”.

Major Brexit campaign donor Arron Banks said Bolton’s election meant he would “re-engage” with the party.

Supporters say Ukip will play a vital role in holding the government to account for promises made in the Brexit campaign and ensuring there is no backsliding on demands such as cutting immigration.

Earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that there was a “better vibe” around Brexit negotiations but that a lot more work needs to be done to advance the tortuous process.

© AFP 2017 with reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald 

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