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Rivals urge Farage to get off EU payroll after he quits as Ukip leader

Divisive politician steps down but keeps £100k-a-year MEP job

By Caroline Mortimer

Published 05/07/2016

Nigel Farage makes a speech in London yesterday announcing that he is stepping down as leader of Ukip
Nigel Farage makes a speech in London yesterday announcing that he is stepping down as leader of Ukip

Nigel Farage has been urged to resign as an MEP and stop "milking the so-called Brussels gravy train".

Mr Farage said he was standing down as leader of Ukip in a surprise announcement yesterday morning, adding he had "done his bit" in getting Britain to vote to leave the EU.

But the Liberal Democrats' foreign affairs spokesman, Tom Brake, said he should also resign as an MEP after the Brexit politician insisted he "couldn't possibly achieve more" and "wants his life back".

Mr Brake said: "Nigel Farage has spent years attacking the so-called Brussels gravy train while doing his best to cash in on EU taxpayer-funded expenses. This rank hypocrisy has to end.

"It's high time he did the honourable thing and resigned as an MEP and stopped milking taxpayers to push his divisive agenda."

Mr Farage said during his resignation announcement that he would remain as an MEP, for which he gets paid €100,000 a year - plus expenses.

He insisted he would guard against any "appeasement" or "backsliding" by ministers implementing the result of the Brexit referendum.

In a speech in London, Mr Farage added: "During the referendum campaign, I said I want my country back. What I'm saying today is, I want my life back, and it begins right now."

When questioned about a previous decision to stand down in 2015, he said: "I won't change my mind again, I can promise you."

After a string of failed attempts to get into the Commons, Mr Farage claimed standing in 2020 was "not on my bucket list".

But asked about the prospect of a return to the frontline if there was not a satisfactory Brexit deal by the time of the next General Election, he replied: "Let's see where we are in two-and-a half-years' time. I don't need to be leader of Ukip. I can be part of that 2020 campaign if we don't get what we want."

The Ukip leader was elected to the European Parliament, representing the South-East of England, in 1999. He but has one of the worst voting attendance records of any MEP.

Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union on June 23, with 52% in favour of the move. The decision caused turmoil in both the Conservative and Labour parties.

Mr Farage was heavily criticised for the anti-immigration tone of his unofficial Brexit campaign, Leave.EU.

The week before the vote, he unveiled a controversial poster showing a queue of refugees waiting to pass into Europe with the words "Breaking Point".

When the news of Mr Farage's resignation emerged, Ukip's only MP, Douglas Carswell, tweeted a smiling face with sunglasses emoji. Mr Carswell has already ruled himself out of the race for the Ukip leader post.

Bitter squabbles have characterised the relationship between Mr Carswell and Mr Farage. When asked about Mr Farage's often-criticised rhetoric on immigration, Mr Carswell said: "We went too far, and I criticised it when we went too far"

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