If Nigel Farage fails in South Thanet, who can take over?

Farage at European Council Summit

Nigel Farage has stated that if he does not win in South Thanet then he will stand down as leader. But who will replace him?

According to the Telegraph, in March, UKIP’s leader said:

“What credibility would Ukip have in the Commons if others had to enunciate party policy in Parliament and the party leader was only allowed in as a guest?

“Was I supposed to brief Ukip policy from the Westminster Arms? No – if I fail to win South Thanet, it is curtains for me. I will have to step down.”

So if this happens, who will lead UKIP? What do the betting markets say?

Douglas Carswell (5/2)

According to William Hill, the odds are decent for Douglas Carswell. He is certainly in with a shot of leading his party. He won UKIP’s first seat very comfortably in 2014 and will likely hang on in May, so will be well positioned to lead from within the Commons in the event Nigel Farage fails to win. He is certainly charismatic enough to lead the party, but whether he is as big a personality as Nigel Farage is yet to be seen.

Patrick O’Flynn (5/2)

Mr O’Flynn has the same odds as Carswell, but to most people outside UKIP, very few will have a clue who he is. Compared with Carswell, who is well known throughout the country for his defection to UKIP, O’Flynn lacks such familiarity. Nonetheless, by being the party's economic spokesperson he is an experienced potential candidate in the event Nigel Farage fails to win in Thanet.

Paul Nutall (7/1)

The odds for Paul Nutall are surprisingly good for political betters. As deputy leader, Nutall has experience and has been a driving force of UKIP. Furthermore, as someone from the north of England, he represents many of the new UKIP voters in the north. The party has reiterated that it wants to challenge Labour in the north so a northern leader could be the best move for the party if it comes second in many constituencies in 2015, in preparation for 2020 or sooner.

Talking to the New Statesman at the start of the year, Mr Nutall said:

“Could I lead Ukip? Yeah I think I could lead Ukip and I think I could lead Ukip well.”

He certainly has the ambition to lead his party.

Then again Nigel Farage has said that a leader should be able to be in the House Of Commons so a lot will depend on how well Nutall does in getting a seat come May. But Nutall is standing in a very-safe Labour seat (Bootle) where Labour got 66% of the vote last time so his chances of becoming a leader, one needed in the Commons, are quite slim.

Diane James (5/1)

A few years ago one might have thought that Diane James would have a great chance, having come a close second in the 2013 Eastleigh by-election to the Liberal Democrats, and ahead of the Conservatives.

However, she is not standing in any seat in May as she is to spend more time with a sick family member, according to the Independent. Nonetheless, in a few years time she could be someone to watch out for in the party.


Other potential candidates include Steven Woolfe (6/1), Suzanne Evans (5/1) and Mark Reckless (33/1). There are a few key candidates that stand out, but in the event that Nigel Farage stands down it is hard to imagine someone with the same gravitas and the same ability to cause an earthquake in such a way that the party's current leader does.

The full William Hill odds can be accessed here.


Interviewing UKIP's Andrew Michael: Gogglebox and Politics

'Vote UKIP, get UKIP': the tide has turned in British politics

SNP conference: party positions itself to work with Labour