UKIP confirms Gerard Batten as new leader

UKIP confirms Gerard Batten as new leader

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UKIP has confirmed it has a new leader – its fifth since Nigel Farage stepped down in late 2016.

Gerard Batten, who ran unopposed in the election to replace Henry Bolton, announced he had taken over the role officially on Saturday.

Mr Bolton, 55, was ousted from the leadership following a scandal over his affair with 25-year-old model Jo Marney.

Mr Batten, who is also UKIP’s MEP for London, said he would now concentrate on restoring the “party’s fortunes” after it saw its vote share in the polls slip from a high of more than 25% in the European elections in 2014 to less than 2% in 2017.

He also pledged to resign after 12 months to allow a full leadership election to take place.

He said in a statement: “I received the backing of all three UKIP Lords, our major donors, our MEPs, our London and Welsh Assembly Members, and party activists and members from all over the UK.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support, and am grateful for the trust and confidence placed in me.

“For the next twelve months, I will concentrate on doing all I can to restore the party’s fortunes. A very good start has been made and the party is now on a sound financial footing.

“However, we need to get UKIP back into the political fight. We have made a very good start with the 554 UKIP candidates standing in the English local elections.

“Don’t pay any attention to our enemies who are crowing that our candidates numbers are 75% down on what they were last time.

“The truth is that instead of 554 candidates, the number would have been zero if you had not all backed me from the 17 April onwards and the party had disintegrated. Instead, let’s celebrate the 554 and help them all we can.

“My role as Interim Leader was to ensure the immediate survival of the party. That has been done. However, we must move on and progress.”

UKIP lost control of its only major council in February when the party’s local leader resigned.

Before he became the official leader, Mr Batten was forced to defend his description of Islam as a “death cult”.

Diane James was the first to replace Mr Farage after a vote but, before taking up the role, she announced she would not be doing so as she claimed she did not have the authority.

Paul Nuttall followed Ms James but lasted seven months before he resigned when he failed to win a seat in the General Election.

Steve Crowther was acting leader until Mr Bolton was elected.

(c) Sky News 2018: UKIP confirms Gerard Batten as new leader