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Carswell rules out Ukip leader bid

Published 09/05/2015

Ukip's Douglas Carswell, left, pictured with Nigel Farage, says he will not be a contender for the party leadership
Ukip's Douglas Carswell, left, pictured with Nigel Farage, says he will not be a contender for the party leadership

Ukip's only sitting MP has ruled himself out of the race to be the party's next leader.

Douglas Carswell, who held his Clacton seat on a reduced majority, said he would not seek to fill the post vacated by Nigel Farage, who announced his resignation after losing out in Thanet South.

Mr Farage said he was taking a break but left the door open for a return when he said: "There will be a leadership election for the next leader of Ukip in September and I will consider over the course of this summer whether to put my name forward to do that job again."

Mr Carswell praised Mr Farage, the man behind his defection from the Conservatives, as a "heroic and inspirational figure" but told the Times: "I am not going to be running as leader."

Mr Farage, 51, said he would recommend Suzanne Evans, the deputy chairman, be a stand-in leader until the leadership challenge is complete.

He lost to Conservative Craig Mackinlay in Thanet South by almost 3,000 votes, leaving Ukip with just one MP after former Tory Mark Reckless lost in Rochester and Strood.

Announcing his resignation yesterday, Mr Farage said: "I'm a man of my word, I shall be writing to the Ukip national executive in a few minutes, saying I am standing down as leader of Ukip.

"I shall recommend that ... they put in place as acting leader Suzanne Evans who I think has emerged from this campaign as an absolute tower of strength within Ukip."

He added: "Personally, there's a bit of me that is disappointed but there is a bit of me that feels better than I have felt for many, many years.

"It really has been seven days a week, totally unrelenting, and occasionally let down by people who perhaps haven't said and done the right things.

"I haven't had a fortnight's holiday since October 1993. I intend to take the summer off, enjoy myself a bit."

Earlier he had railed against the electoral system which handed the SNP 56 seats and Ukip one, even though the Eurosceptic party was the third largest by vote share.

Writing in the Independent Mr Farage repeated his attack on the voting system, saying he felt the 3.8 million voters who backed his party should be better represented.

He said: "It is my view that the first-past-the-post system is now totally bankrupt. It has turned general election campaigns into "please vote for me, I'm not quite as ugly as the other one" situations, rather than parties fighting over policy positions and serious issues. It has directly led to a campaign of total negativity and triviality.

"There is also the question of what is fair and reasonable. For so many millions of voters to have just one representative simply cannot be right - and I believe that whoever is the next Ukip leader has a major campaign to fight on this issue."

Adding he would "think seriously" about his next move, he hinted he wanted to play a role in an referendum on the EU.

He said: "I say that, though it nags in the back of my mind that this majority Conservative government has promised a referendum on Britain's EU membership. I guess I face some tough decisions."

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