Nigel Farage, who campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union has stepped down as the leader of the anti-immigrant UKIP party.
Farage explained that he was stepping down because he had fulfilled his political ambition of ‘Brexit’.
“I have never been and never wanted to be a career politician…I now feel that I’ve done my bit, that I couldn’t possibly achieve more… I feel it’s right that I should now stand aside as leader of UKIP,” said 52-year-old Farage who was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for UK Independence Party in 1999.
Farage had led a separate grassroots campaign to convince voters of a ‘Brexit’. He had made numerous speeches in the wake of the result to declare June 23 Britain’s “Independence Day.”
He was at the heart of some of the biggest controversies during the campaign, including an anti-immigration poster of refugees flocking to enter southern Europe, which was dubbed as a “vile” by both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ camps.
This is not the first time, Farage has quit as UKIP leader. Twice before he had quit but decided to stay on. In 2009 he quit over party infighting and in 2015 he quit after failing to become an MP.
But on Monday he insisted that he “won’t be changing my mind again”.
“The victory for the ‘Leave’ side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved…During the referendum campaign, I said ‘I want my country back’… now I want my life back, and it begins right now,” said Farage.
He said UKIP was instrumental in winning the referendum for the Leave campaign, championing the issue of immigration, and insisted it would continue as a party in its current form.
He said he would continue to support the party, and continue to watch Brussels “like a hawk” during the negotiations around Britain’s exit from the EU.
He reiterated his view that Britain’s new prime minister needed to be from the “Leave” campaign but declined to back any specific candidate.
Farage’s stepping down will begin the race find his successor. Possible candidates include deputy leader Paul Nuttall, immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe and culture spokesman Peter Whittle.
UKIP has a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, three representatives in the House of Lords, and 22 member of European Parliament, making it the largest UK party in the European Parliament.
Britain voted to leave the economic bloc in a historic referendum on June 23, plunging the country into its biggest political crisis of modern times. 52 per cent Britons sided with Brexit to 48 per cent supporting UK to remain in the EU.
A political turmoil gripped Britain since the vote. Prime Minister David Cameron, who campaigned in favour of the UK remaining in the EU has announced he will resign following the loss and a leadership contest is underway to replace him.
(With inputs from agencies)