New Ukip leader announces plans to quit after being elected unopposed
Gerard Batten says he will serve 12 months then resign.
Ukip’s new leader announced he intends to resign in 12 months as he was installed in the post after an uncontested election.
Gerard Batten said he will spend the next year trying to restore the party’s fortunes after a tumultuous period that has seen it implode with bitter infighting and stretched by financial struggles.
The London MEP warned that the Eurosceptic party needs to get “back into the political fight” as the local elections in England approach.
Mr Batten said: “As I said at the start of the contest, if the election were to be uncontested, I would hold office for 12 months.
“Therefore, I intend to resign on 13th April 2019 so that a full leadership contest may take place. By then I will have decided if I wish to contest that election or not.
“For the next 12 months, I will concentrate on doing all I can to restore the party’s fortunes. A very good start has been made and the party is now on a sound financial footing.”
Mr Batten became interim leader after predecessor Henry Bolton was ousted in February.
Mr Bolton was kicked out of the job over his relationship with controversial model Jo Marney, who sent offensive messages about Meghan Markle.
After taking the helm, Mr Batten had to appeal to Ukip members for funds after the party faced possible insolvency when it was landed with a £175,000 legal bill from a libel case lost by its MEP Jane Collins.
Mr Batten said: “My role as interim leader was to ensure the immediate survival of the party. That has been done. However, we must move on and progress.
“My aim for the next 12 months as Ukip Leader is to restore the party; financially, organisationally and politically.
“I will not make any extravagant promises. We are essentially a volunteer organisation and we have a difficult task ahead; one which will require a lot of commitment and work. But Ukip is needed now as much as ever.”