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Diane James: First female leader for Ukip

By Andrew Woodcock and Sam Lister, PA

Published 17/09/2016

Diane James waves after being confirmed as new Ukip leader at party conference
Diane James waves after being confirmed as new Ukip leader at party conference

New Ukip leader Diane James (56) is the first woman to head the eurosceptic party - and a close ally of her predecessor Nigel Farage.

Her first challenge will be to restore unity to a party that has been riven by what a defecting activist described as a "Venn diagram" of factions.

But only hours after her victory in the leadership contest was revealed, political opponents were referring to her as Mr Farage's "puppet".

The front-runner throughout the leadership campaign, Ms James was backed by supporters of Mr Farage and Ukip's millionaire funder Arron Banks, who predicted the party would be "dead in the water" if she was defeated.

But she must now work out how to bring together an array of prominent figures jostling for influence within the party, from Ukip's only MP Douglas Carswell to would-be leaders Steven Woolfe and Suzanne Evans - both barred from standing - runner-up Lisa Duffy and Welsh Assembly member Neil Hamilton.

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