With the party’s go-to leader having ruled himself out of UKIP's leadership contest, who will take over from Paul Nutall?
In 2015, UKIP became Britain’s third party in terms of vote-share. They stormed into third-place with 13% of the vote, but only one seat, which they then lost when Douglas Carswell left the party to become an independent. Two years after their high-point, the party entered the 2017 campaign with Paul Nutall as its leader, however, the Conservatives and Labour both surged at the ballot box and UKIP did exceptionally poorly, achieving just 1.8% of the vote.
That opened up the prospect of Nigel Farage returning to lead the party, but on Sunday he gave his reasons for not standing for the position in the Telegraph. However, in news that can lift the spirits of his biggest fans, he hinted that at some point he could return if the UK did not get a good Brexit deal, saying in the article that:
“Of course I want a full and proper Brexit, and if in 2019 we reach the end of the Article 50 process and a huge gap is left, whether that is not taking back our fishing rights, the continuation of free movement or still paying Brussels too much money, I would not hesitate in throwing myself back into the front line of domestic politics.”
This of course begs the question, who can take over? And who wants to? With the country on track to leave the European Union, is there much point for a party whose name and original purpose was to get the country out of said union.
Suzanne Evans, who has previously attempted to lead the party is one option, however, there have yet to be any reports of her noting any interest in the position. Ladbrokes give her odds of 16/1, and the betting company’s favourites are Peter Whittle, Anne marie Waters and Bill Etheridge.
Peter Whittle is UKIP’s deputy leader and a member of the London Assembly for the party. He announced his intention to stand for the party's top position on 26th June, according to Westmonster. His position as UKIP’s second in command, as well as that of an elected representative makes him a strong contender with Ladbrokes giving him odds of 2/1.
Today I have announced that I am standing for the leadership of UKIP.— Peter Whittle AM (@prwhittle) June 26, 2017
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Next is Anne Marie Waters who is the director of Sharia Watch UK. According to the BBC, she has already launched her campaign to lead the party and is an “anti-Islam campaigner”. Ladbrokes gives odds for her at 4/1. Furthermore, Geert Wilders, the Dutch populist PVV leader, has tweeted his backing for her.
She is very brave, intelligent and strong. A real freedom fighter!
The third favourite, according to Ladbrokes' odds is Bill Etheridge (10/1). The MEP has been a member of the European Parliament since 2014 and has previously said he would stand for the leadership if Nigel Farage does not, as reported by the Express and Star. With Nigel Farage out of the running, it looks likely that Etheridge will stand again.
Sad Nigel Farage isn't returning as UKIP leader . He is right reform of the party is urgently needed— Bill Etheridge (@Billukip) July 1, 2017
The full list of Ladbrokes odds for the UKIP leadership can be found here. All odds are accurate as of 2nd July 2017.