UKIP's 10 leaders: from Nigel Farage to Henry Bolton

UKIP have elected a new leader, Henry Bolton, but who has led the party in the past?

Since the party’s birth in 1993, UKIP have had plenty of leaders and a handful of acting leaders. Here’s a brief history of the men and women who have filled the party’s top position.

1. Alan Sked

Sked was the party’s founder, but now has very little to do with the beast he created. He even set up a new movement in 2013 called the “New Deal”, but it was dissolved two years later. Sked is an academic, who said that UKIP should “dissolve” and “disappear” after last year’s referendum, according to Business Insider UK.

He led the party between 1993 and 1997, and has never won an election.

2. Michael Holmes

Craig Mackinlay briefly served as acting leader before Michael Holmes took over in 1997. Along with two other UKIP members including Nigel Farage, Holmes was elected to the European Parliament in 1999, however, his time as UKIP leader was short-lived. According to the BBC, Holmes stepped down as UKIP leader in early 2000 to sit as an independent MEP. He later stepped down as an MEP in 2002.

3. Jeffrey Titford

Titford, the party’s only MEP other than Nigel Farage at the time became UKIP leader in 2000. He served as leader until 2002, making limited progress at the 2001 general election. He stepped down as an MEP in 2009.

4. Roger Knapman

Knapman served as a Tory MP, but lost his seat in the 1997 general election as many Conservatives did at the time. In 2004, UKIP made further gains at the European Parliament elections with Knapman becoming an MEP for South-West England. He stepped down as party leader in 2006.

5. Nigel Farage

Enter the party’s purple giant. Farage won the 2006 leadership election with 45% of the vote. As one of the party’s longest-serving MEPs, Farage has had a major impact on British politics. However, his first spell as leader ended in 2009 when he stepped down from the post to concentrate on winning John Bercow’s seat.

He lost.

6. Malcolm Pearson

Pearson was elected in 2009 with almost half of the memberships’ votes. Initially a Conservative peer, Pearson joined UKIP in 2007. After a poor performance in the 2010 election, Pearson resigned as party leader.

7. Nigel Farage (again)

After Pearson stepped down, former leader Jeffrey Titford became the party’s acting leader. This was followed by a leadership contest in which the returning Nigel Farage won a landslide victory. Over the next six years of Farage’s leadership, UKIP advanced, winning hundreds of council seats, coming first in the 2014 European Parliament elections, getting 13% of the vote in 2015 and playing a role in taking Britain out of the European Union in last year’s referendum.

8. Diane James

After Farage’s post-Brexit vote referendum, James was elected UKIP leader. However, she stepped down eighteen days after being elected leader, as reported by the BBC. This was followed by a brief return of Nigel Farage as acting leader.

9. Paul Nutall

After James’ resignation, a new leadership contest was triggered in which Paul Nutall defeated Suzanne Evans and John Rees-Evans with over 60% of the vote. During his time as leader, Nutall stood in the Stoke by-election and lost, and led his party to a disastrous defeat in the 2017 snap election at which Labour and the Conservatives both gained ground.

10. Henry Bolton

After Nutall’s leadership failed to deliver success at the 2017 election, he stepped aside, triggering a new contest.

At UKIP’s conference in Torquay on Friday, the party announced that Henry Bolton had been elected as UKIP's new leader. According to Kent Online, Bolton is an ex-police officer as is from the less radical wing of his party.

His victory was generally seen as a surprise, with Anne Marie Waters and Peter Whittle initially being seen as the front-runners. 

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