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Ukip's Nigel Farage leaves legacy of success and controversy

Published 04/07/2016

Leader of UKIP Nigel Farage takes the applause after addressing delegates during his keynote speech on September 20, 2013 in London, England. Members of the United Kingdom Independent Party have gathered at Central Hall, Westminster for the annual conference. Nigel Farage has predicted that the party will come first in next year's European elections, saying it is
Leader of UKIP Nigel Farage takes the applause after addressing delegates during his keynote speech on September 20, 2013 in London, England. Members of the United Kingdom Independent Party have gathered at Central Hall, Westminster for the annual conference. Nigel Farage has predicted that the party will come first in next year's European elections, saying it is "growing up" after success in local elections. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) member Nigel Farage takes a cigarette break as he campaigns on April 8, 2010 in Winslow, England. UKIP Member of the European Parliament, Nigel Farage, is standing in the constituency of Parliament's speaker John Bercow in the general election which is to be held on May 6, 2010. Electoral convention dictates that main political parties do not put up candidates in the current Speakers constituency. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
A light aircraft lies in a field at Hinton Airfield after crashing on May 6, 2010 in Brackley, England. The aircraft was carrying United Kingdom Independence Party candidate Nigel Farage and towing a banner when it crashed. Farage was admitted to hospital after suffering facial cuts and injuries to the chest. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage speaks at a press conference at the The Emmanuel Centre on July 4, 2016 in London, England. Mr Farage today said he would be standing down as leader of UKIP during a press conference to outline his party's plan for 'Brexit' following the referendum which saw the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage MEP, speaks at the final 'We Want Our Country Back' public meeting of the EU Referendum campaign on June 20, 2016 in Gateshead, England. Campaigning continues across the UK as the country goes to the polls on Thursday, to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage poses with the party's new EU referendum poster in Westminster on June 16, 2016 in London, England. UKIP today launched their new advert as part of their campaign to leave the European Union ahead of the EU referendum on the 23rd of June. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
UKIP leader Nigel Farage gestures to a member of the public while sitting down in a cafe for a cup of tea, during a walk about on June 13, 2016 in Ramsgate, England. Mr Farage will be spending the day driving around the region speaking to members of the public about the forthcoming EU referendum. Campaigning continues by all parties ahead of the EU referendum which takes place on June 23rd, 2016. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Nigel Farage holds up a British Passport which he would like to see without European Union written on during his speach at the UKIP Spring Conference on February 27, 2016 in Llandudno, Wales. UKIP's annual national Spring Conference is being held for the first time in Wales during the Welsh assembly election campaign. The elections for the National Assembly will take place on May 5 with polls predicting UKIP could win nine seats in the Senedd. (Photo by Richard Stonehouse/Getty Images)
Nigel Farage poses for a photograph as he unveils a new UKIP campaign poster for European Elections on May 11, 2014 in London, England. David Cameron has hinted he may take part in TV debates with the UKIP leader, but on the basis that other party leaders are also involved. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)
UKIP leader Nigel Farage arrives to speak at UKIP public meeting at Old Basing Village Hall on April 9, 2014 in Basingstoke, England. Mr Farage made the surprise visit and spoke about the recent resignation of the Former Culture Secretary Maria Miller. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
UKIP leader Nigel Farage attends a coffee morning at Coppins Community Centre, on April 13, 2015 in Clacton, England. Britain goes to the polls in a General Election on May 7. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage speaks during a conference in which the party's immigration policy was unveiled on March 4, 2015 in London, England. Farage stated that UKIP wants immigration to return to "normal" levels with around 20,000 to 50,000 migrants issued with work permits. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
United Kingdom Indepedence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage smiles as he holds a wash bag with writing on which reads 'Don't Panic' as he campaigns ahead of the general election on February 12, 2015 in Benfleet, England. Party leader Nigel Farage is making his fist major speech of the 2015 general election. He has stated that both the Conservative and Labour parties fear that UKIP will hold the balance of power in an election with no clear winner. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader, Nigel Farage, speaks to members of the public at a sold-out public meeting at Hoo Village Institute on November 4, 2014 in Rochester, England. Rochester and Strood will hold a by-election on November 20th following the defection of Conservative Party Member of Parliament, Mark Reckless to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel farage poses for photographs at party headquarters after Douglas Carswell won the Clacton-on-Sea by-election for UKIP on October 10, 2014 in England. Mr Carswell will become the first UKIP Member of Parliament. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images). (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Nigel Farage speaks to the press after winning the Thanet Hustings to select the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Kent Constituency on August 26, 2014 at The Odd Fellows Hall in Ramsgate, England. Nigel Farage beat four other candidates for the position and spoke to a packed hall about his plans to regenerate the area and his hopes of becoming Ukip's first MP. (Photo by Mary Turner/Getty Images)
UK Independence Party (UKIP) Leader Nigel Farage addresses members of the public during a political meeting at the Armstrong Hall as he canvasses for votes during the local election on April 30, 2013 in South Shields, England. The UK Independence party leader, Nigel Farage, said that his party faced 'one or two teething problems' with its 17000 candidates for Thursday's local elections after the suspension of UKIP candidate Alex Wood, who was photographed making a Nazi salute. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage speaks at a press conference at the The Emmanuel Centre on July 4, 2016 in London, England. Mr Farage today said he would be standing down as leader of UKIP during a press conference to outline his party's plan for 'Brexit' following the referendum which saw the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage knocks on doors in a residential street as he campaigns for the forthcoming by-election on February 22, 2013 in Eastleigh, Hampshire. The by-election is being fought for the former seat of ex-Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne and will be held on February 28, 2013. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Nigel Farage leaves the national stage as one of the most divisive - and successful - politicians of modern times.

Accused of stooping to racist imagery with the infamous "Breaking Point" poster depicting streams of refugees fleeing to the EU, Mr Farage saw his decades-long campaign for Britain to quit the grip of Brussels triumph in the narrow 52% to 48% victory for the Leave side in the landmark referendum.

After facing down numerous challenges to unseat him, Mr Farage, 52, has now decided to step aside as party leader after securing an historic victory against the odds.

Opponents within the party had been keen to see Mr Farage relinquish the Ukip reins so it could shake off its image as a one-man band.

The departure of such a polarising leader also makes it easier for the party to target traditional Labour heartlands it now sees as vulnerable, according to strategists.

This new electoral drive was signalled in Mr Farage's surprise announcement he was going, as he noted: "I have decided to stand aside as leader of Ukip. The victory for the Leave side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved.

"Whilst we will now leave the European Union, the terms of our withdrawal are unclear. If there is too much backsliding by the Government, and with the Labour Party detached from many of its voters, then Ukip's best days may be yet to come."

The once lone voice for Brexit who ended up speaking for a majority of the nation hinted he was now weary of the constant warfare of front-line politics, stating: "I want my life back, and it begins right now."

That will be good news to party critics who were dismayed when he announced he was standing down after last year's general election, only to change his mind soon after.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband was cutting in his response to the move, telling the BBC: "It's a legacy of stirring up division. I am not sorry to see Nigel Farage leave the political scene."

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