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Nigel Farage resigns as Ukip leader after Brexit vote

hgNigel Farage today dramatically quit as Ukip leader saying he wanted his “life back” following the historic Brexit vote.

In a surprise announcement that will spark another leadership contest in British politics he said he could not hope to achieve more than the Brexit vote.

Within seconds his move was greeted joyfully by one of his internal rivals Douglas Carswell MP, who tweeted a smiley face emoji.

In another day of fast-moving developments in the aftermath of the EU referendum:

  •  Former French Prime Minister Alain Juppe, a frontrunner to be France’s next president, said the border with Britain should be moved from Calais back to Dover.
  •  Stephen Crabb promised an early go-ahead for Heathrow’s long-delayed third runway if he wins, saying it is needed to boost London’s post-Brexit economy.
  •  Labour’s civil war stepped up as Jeremy Corbyn was served with an ultimatum to resign or face a leadership contest by senior Labour MP Angela Eagle.

Speaking to supporters and press in London Mr Farage said: “It has been a huge chunk of my life doing this and it’s not easy having [been leader] to let it go.

“But it has come at a cost to me and perhaps to those around me.

“During the referendum campaign I said I want my country back. What I’m saying today is I want my life back.”

Mr Farage said he had never been “a career politician” and that his only aim was to “get Britain out of the European Union”.

He went on: “That is what we voted for in that referendum two weeks ago.

“That is why I now feel that I’ve done my bit, and that I couldn’t possibly achieve more than we managed to get in that referendum.

“So I feel it’s right that I should now stand aside.”

Clacton MP Mr Carswell, who has repeatedly clashed with Mr Farage and is seen as a potential leader, took to Twitter almost immediately to post the emoji.

It was so quick that Mr Farage was still taking questions, allowing him to respond: “I’m pleased he’s smiling, because that’s not something I’ve seen very often from him.”

Mr Farage said he would stay on as an MEP for the next two years in order to ensure Brexit stayed on course.

He also said he may travel Europe helping other political parties lead their countries to quit the EU.

Asked about his potential involvement, he said: “I might have something to give if they want it. If they don’t that’s fine.”

Mr Farage resigned once before after the 2015 General Election, only to take up the leadership once again after claiming people in the party urged him to stay.

His U-turn last year led to internal divisions which saw a cull of top figures including rivals, Suzanne Evans and Patrick O’Flynn, who may not re-emerge.

Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall and Immigration Spokesman Steven Woolfe, who also played prominent roles in the referendum campaign, are seen as a potential runners.

The party’s executive was due to meet today to get the leadership process underway, with a new leader expected to be in place by the party’s September conference.

Last week he clashed with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as he celebrated the referendum result with a provocative victory speech in front of stunned MEPs.

Mr Farage was a founding member of Ukip in 1993, having previoiusly been a member of the Conservatives. He was elected to the European Parliament in 1999 and became Ukip leader in 2006.