Ukip ex-chair Steve Crowther installed as interim leader after Paul Nuttall quits
Ukip ex-chairman Steve Crowther has taken charge of the party temporarily after Paul Nuttall quit in the wake of a bruising general election result.
The party received almost 600,000 votes across the country in yesterday’s snap poll – a far cry from the four million they won in 2015.
Mr Nuttall, who only took the reins last November, said this morning it was time for Ukip to rebrand and begin a “new era” under different leadership.
In a statement this afternoon party chair Paul Oakden said the process for the next leadership election will be decided by the National Executive Committee on Monday.
He added: “I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to Paul Nuttall for having had the courage and strength of will to forge on over six difficult months for our party.
“Paul is a good, decent and humble man and I've no doubt that he will be remembered as the person who kept Ukip alive when everything seemed determined to bring it to an end.”
And he said: “Steve has a solid relationship with the NEC, both former leaders and our biggest donors. He has seen this situation before and will know how best to navigate through these tumultuous weeks.”
Mr Crowther, meanwhile, said Ukip would “rapidly regroup, choose a new Leader and get back on our horse”.
He added: “We will provide the backbone for the full, proper Brexit that the people voted for last year, and which is the only way to protect this country from the impending economic meltdown in Europe, and get back control of our borders – something which is clearly long overdue.”
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 come 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.
In another blow for the party, its general secretary, Jonathan Arnott, also quit in protest at some of the policies in the party's election manifesto.