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21 November 2016

Diane James quits Ukip seven weeks after quitting the leadership too

The (briefly) former Ukip leader is leaving the party. 

By Julia Rampen

Diane James, who was Ukip leader for 18 days, has now left the party altogether.

Her departure comes hot on the heels of the departure of another prominent Ukip politician, Steven Woolfe

Speaking at a YouGov conference on Friday, James said she had resigned from the leadership because she wanted to give someone else an opportunity. 

In a statement on Monday, she expanded:

“The President of the Parliament Martin Schulz has accepted my request and will announce this in his opening speech to the Parliamentary Session in Strasbourg on Monday 21 November.

“At a high profile public event in Cambridge last week, I was asked why I had not completed the process to become leader of Ukip? I had little option, but to give the truthful response that, although nominated leader by popular vote in the membership, I found that I had no support within the executive and thus no ability to carry forward the policies on which I had campaigned. 

“My decision to retire from the election process and not complete it was very difficult personally and professionally, given that Ukip has dominated my life and all my efforts for over five years. In recent weeks, my relationship with the party has been increasingly difficult and I feel it is now time to move on. I wish the party well for the future under new leadership.”

But her decision to quit Ukip altogether means that two of Ukip’s original 22 MEPs are now independents. 

At the YouGov conference, she had said in answer to a question:

“I walked away from the leadership, as you correctly put it, because I decided I was not the right person to lead Ukip. Very simply, I’m a management consultant by background, and an analyst. I campaigned on a whole platform, a whole series of areas, and within let’s say 17-18 days, I realised I couldn’t do those and I couldn’t deliver them within the timeframe I felt the party had to address.

“That to me is honesty from a politician. Recognising that having achieved 40 per cent of the membership vote, actually got them to come behind me and understand and appreciate and buy into what I was putting forward, I couldn’t deliver within, as you will have seen, 100 days. I couldn’t deliver those in 100 days.

“I believe I did the honourable thing and decided to allow somebody else who could come in and campaign and win with a different mandate, a different platform.”

Of course, some will say they sensed a lack of enthusiasm from the beginning of James’s leadership…