Only a matter of days after the British public voted to leave the European Union, Nigel Farage, the man who campaigned for more than two decades toward that goal, has announced his resignation as the leader of the party he co-founded.
“During the referendum I said I wanted my country back,” Farage told a press conference in London on Monday. “Now I want my life back.”
Farage, 52, has been the face of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) during its steady rise to prominence that culminated in the June 23 referendum. He has been an elected member of the European Parliament since 1999. At the 2014 elections to the European Parliament, UKIP took more votes than any other British party, but Britain’s ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system meant that it only got one seat in the House of Commons in Britain’s general election the following year (Farage had failed again to get elected).
“The victory for the ‘Leave’ side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved,” a statement from Farage said. “I came into this struggle from business because I wanted us to be a self-governing nation, not to become a career politician.”
His departure will trigger a leadership contest in UKIP at the same time as the country’s two major parties endure a tumultuous period in Westminster.
The ruling Conservative Party is currently deciding who should replace Prime Minister David Cameron, who backed Remain in the referendum and announced immediately after the result that he would step aside to let a successor carry out the voters’ wish to leave the bloc. Farage’s fellow Leave campaigner Boris Johnson, pulled out of the race last week, as another Brexiter, Michael Gove, announced that he would run.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing a revolt from his party’s lawmakers, who contend that his professed support for the Remain campaign was half-hearted, and was a big factor in traditional Labour voters either voting to Leave or not turning up to vote Remain.