UK Independence Party
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is a British right-wing political party that is best-known for its call for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union and for other policies to control immigration.
The party is currently led by acting leader Kirstan Herriot following the resignation of Richard Braine. Its previous leader Gerard Batten resigned after losing his sea in the European Parliament. He had become leader after no confidence motions passed by the party's national executive and an open meeting for members in the previous leader, Henry Bolton, who became the party's leader in September 2017. Paul Nuttall was elected party leader on 28th November 2016; previously, he had been the deputy leader. Prior to Nuttall's election, Nigel Farage was the party's interim leader. He resigned in July 2016 but returned the following October when his elected successor, Diane James, stepped down after 18 days. James stated that she had not "formalised" the party's nomination and Farage indicated that he had technically remained in charge, leading to some confusion over the leadership. It appears she had not registered herself as leader with the Electoral Commission.
UKIP won the most UK seats in the 2014 elections to the European Parliament. Until March 2017 it also had one representative in the UK Parliament, Douglas Carswell, who was previously a Conservative MP but defected and resigned to trigger a by-election, which he successfully contested. Prior to the 2015 general election, UKIP had a second MP, Mark Reckless, who also defected from the Conservatives. In that election, UKIP polled almost four million votes (13% of the total) but returned only one MP.
UKIP won six seats in the Welsh Assembly in the 2016 elections. Their group leader is Neil Hamilton, a former Conservative MP best-known for the 'cash for questions' scandal in the 1990s. The party has no seats in the Scottish Parliament.
Most of its voters have now switched to the new Brexit Party led by UKIP's former leader Nigel Farage. A major reason for this was that the former leader Gerard Batten spent much of his time attacking Islam.
European Union membership referendum
UKIP campaigned for Britain to leave the EU during the 2016 referendum, but was not part of the official 'leave' campaign. Farage predicted a narrow win for 'remain' on election night and pledged to fight on. As it happened, 'leave' won with 52% of the vote and Farage retracted his comments. He resigned as leader less than two weeks later.
- BBC News: 'Diane James becomes UKIP leader'. 16th September 2016.
- BBC News: 'Nigel Farage steps back in at UKIP as Diane James quits'. 5th October 2016.