Paul Nuttall resigns as Ukip leader after vote share collapses below 2%
Paul Nuttall has quit as Ukip leader after seeing the party’s support collapse in yesterday’s general election.
Mr Nuttall, who only took the reins last November, said it was time for Ukip to rebrand and begin a “new era” under different leadership.
PoliticsHome revealed this morning that Jonathan Arnott has also quit as the party's general secretary - to take effect from Monday evening.
Ukip’s vote share plummeted from 12.6% in 2015 to 1.8% last night, and it failed to hold its only seat of Clacton after former MP Douglas Carswell quit the party.
Speaking from Boston, the constituency where last night he made his sixth failed attempt to become an MP, Mr Nuttall said the election had been called at “an inopportune time” for Ukip.
He announced he was resigning with immediate effect but, despite a string of electoral losses in recent months, he insisted Ukip could “flourish” in the future.
“If things go the way I expect then Ukip could in eighteen months’ time be bigger in terms of poll ratings and members than it ever has been before,” he said.
“At the moment it could be argued that Ukip has been a victim of its own success. We forced the referendum and we helped win Brexit and some people mistakenly think our job is done. But it’s not. With Brexit, we may well have won the war but we now have to secure the peace – and that is getting a good deal in the negotiations with the eurocrats in Brussles.
His decision means Ukip will hold its third leadership election in a year.
Nigel Farage first quit after the Brexit referendum, only to return – briefly – to the post after his successor Diane James resigned just a few days into the job.
Mr Nuttall then won the subsequent contest in November.
Mr Farage, who declared last night that he would have “no choice” but to return to frontline politics if Jeremy Corbyn’s surge went further, has been installed as favourite by the bookmakers.
He paid tribute to Mr Nuttall on Twitter:
Elsewhere, Mr Arnott quit his post with a powerful blast at those who have advised Mr Nuttall during his short stint as leader.
“I remained silent during a General Election campaign with which I profoundly disagreed. I can no longer remain silent now," he said in a statement.
"Paul has been badly let down by many people, including some of his most senior advisers."
He spoke of the chaos in preparing the Ukip manifesto and his opposition to policies such as the burka ban and the forced inspection of young girls for FGM.
Mr Arnott added: “The people pushing such an agenda need to reflect on the party’s future. They need to stop making it difficult – impossible, even – for many people to vote Ukip."