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4 July 2016

Nigel Farage stands down as Ukip leader declaring “I couldn’t have achieved more“

The Eurosceptic still intends to speak in the EU Parliament.

By Julia Rampen

Nigel Farage is standing down as leader of Ukip just over a week after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Farage told Sky News: “I have never been and never wanted to be a career politician.”

His aim has always been to quit the EU, he said, and: “That is why I now feel that I’ve done my bit. That I couldn’t possibly achieve more than we managed to get in that referendum and so I feel it’s right I should now stand aside as leader of UKIP.”

Farage’s last major public appearance was attacking MEPs for “not doing a proper job” and being asked in response: “Why are you still here?”

But they shouldn’t celebrate – Farage said he still intends to comment in the EU Parliament “from time to time” and help other Eurosceptic parties. 

And claiming that the EU referendum could not have been won without UKIP, he said now “the real me will come out”. 

For all Farage’s bullish talk of British independence, his resignation speech hinted some deference to his German-born wife.

He admitted politics “does come at a cost” to “those around me”. 

And he ended: “During the EU referendum I said I want my country back and what I’m saying today is I want my life back. And it begins right now. Thank you.”

Farage’s decision to step back into the shadows will be welcomed by Tory Remain campaigners, who tried to distance themselves from his claims that the Leave vote was a victory “for decent people”. 

His dog-whistle campaign techniques came to a head in the week before the vote, when he unveiled a campaign poster showing a line of refugees and declaring Britain was “at breaking point”. Hours later, the MP and refugee rights campaigner Jo Cox was gunned down in the street. 

Referring to the spike in reports of racist incidents after the Leave vote, Farage acknowledged “some terrible things have happened” but said “there has been some pretty bad behaviour on both sides”. 

He said those who had come to the country legally needed reassurance that they had fully protected rights.

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