‘Laser focus’ but no policies as Diane James takes over Ukip

Eyes wide shut: Diane James celebrates after being named as the new leader of Ukip
Eyes wide shut: Diane James celebrates after being named as the new leader of Ukip
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Ukip deputy chairman Diane James has won the contest to replace Nigel Farage as the party’s leader.

The MEP, who was the frontrunner in the contest, took the top job with 8,451 votes.

Diane James celebrates with Nigel Farage after being named as the new leader of Ukip

Diane James celebrates with Nigel Farage after being named as the new leader of Ukip

During the leadership battle she promised to have a ‘’laser focus’’ on the Brexit negotiations but refused to set out any policies, insisting she did not want to make “policy on the hoof”.

Shortly begorehand, Nigel Farage said he has given Ukip “absolutely all of me” as he revealed plans to tour Europe to foster Brexit-style “independence movements” after he stepped down as party leader.

Mr Farage was given a hero’s welcome as he spoke at his final Ukip conference as leader in front of hundreds of party activists in Bournemouth.

He revealed that while he is stepping down as leader, he will take his political message on the road to Europe and America.

He said: “Today closes the chapter of what has been a very extraordinary few years. I honestly, looking back, could never really have dreamt that we would have achieved what we have.

“I have put absolutely all of me into this. I literally couldn’t have worked any harder or couldn’t have been more determined. In a sense, I guess it has been my life’s work to try to help get this party to this point.

“I frankly don’t think I could do any more. I think, folks, I’ve done my bit.”

As the crowd whooped and cheered, he said he will remain in politics touring Europe encouraging others to follow Britain out of the European Union.

He said he has no intention of scaling down his attacks on Brussels and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

He said: “I’m not giving up on politics completely. As I say, I will support the new leader, I’m going to continue to lead a group in the European Parliament sitting next to Mr Juncker and making my constructive contributions.

“And I intend, this autumn, to travel around some other European capitals to try and help independence and democracy movements in those countries too.”

Mr Farage, who last month appeared on stage with Donald Trump at a campaign rally for the Republican presidential candidate in Mississippi, added: “Who knows, I may even go back to the United States of America at some point.”

Smiling broadly, he went on: “So I am going to be engaged in political life without leading a political party, and it is going to leave me freer, it’s going to leave me less constrained. From now on, I’m really going to speak my mind.”

Mr Farage said he had campaigned for years to get his country back “and now, folks, I want my life back”. He thanked Ukip activists for “helping us change the course of British history”.

Mr Farage received a standing ovation from the conference centre as he walked out, mobbed by photographers, to the sound of David Bowie’s Heroes.