Nigel Farage has resigned as leader of Reform UK, the renamed Brexit party, and announced he is stepping back from frontline party politics permanently, saying he had achieved what he wanted to thanks to the Conservatives’ Brexit deal.
The former Ukip leader, who led that party to a high water mark when it secured more than 14% of the vote in the 2015 general election, said he still planned to participate in political debate, but not within a party.
Reform UK, which campaigns on issues including electoral reform and pushing for aand shrinking the state, as well as opposing coronavirus lockdowns, will be led by Richard Tice, the property developer who chaired the Brexit party. Farage will take the post of honorary president.
Farage said in a statement on the Reform UK website that with the May local elections set to take place, he had decided to step back after “reflecting on my role and my life over the course of the next few years”.
He said the Brexit party’s formation and victory in the 2019 European elections had been responsible for Boris Johnson replacing Theresa May as prime minister, and that this had achieved what he wanted on Brexit. “The final outcome has cut off Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK and treated our fisherman terribly, but we are out and there is no going back,” he said.
Outside party politics, he said he could do just as much to shift public opinion through media and social media as he could as a party leader.
A regular media pundit on UK and US politics, Farage also presents videos and tweets regularly on issues including the arrival of asylum seekers from France across the Channel, a process he has referred to as an invasion.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Farage said his two main focuses would be the influence of China in the UK, and “the woke agenda, literally the indoctrination of our children from primary school all the way through university with now a completely different interpretation of history”.
Farage told the paper he had built up “quite a considerable social media platform” and planned to use this to influence debate on these issues.
A long-time MEP for Ukip and the Brexit party, Farage also stood for election to Westminster seven times, but failed to win a seat.
He led the party three times, once on an interim basis, but eventually quit altogether in 2018 because of what he called its “fixation” on anti-Muslim policies under Gerard Batten, and its links with the far-right agitator Tommy Robinson.
Shortly afterwards he formed the Brexit party, which topped the vote in the 2019 European elections. It slumped to a 2% share of the vote in the general election at the end of 2019, but by then, Johnson’s push for a very hard Brexit had taken away much of the party’s purpose.