The UK Independence Party - once described as an insurgent party but which grew exponentially in recent years with its exit-EU slogan - on Friday elected Diane James as its first woman chief to replace outgoing leader Nigel Farage.
UKIP’s rise was a major factor in former prime minister David Cameron announcing and holding the June 23 referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. It polled the third highest number of votes in the 2015 general election after the Conservative and Labour parties.
James, 56, was regarded the favourite to succeed Farage, who was one of the leading campaigners for Brexit before the referendum. A Member of the European Parliament from southeast England, James is a former businesswoman and the party's home affairs spokeswoman.
Noting the ripples the party has generated in British politics in recent years and its key plank, Farage said in his last speech as leader at the party conference in Bournemouth that he had given it all he had, and now wanted his life back.
Holding up a copy of the European passport held by British people, Farage said: "The only time we'll know Brexit means Brexit is when that has been put in the bin and we get a British passport." He warned Prime Minister Theresa May that she must pass three tests to make sure “Brexit means Brexit” - regaining control of fishing rights, getting out of the single market and returning to the old British passport.
James overcame four contenders: Bill Etheridge, Lisa Duffy, Liz Jones and Phillip Broughton. However, observers said the UKIP will struggle for relevance after the Brexit vote and the departure of Farage. James will also have to contend with infighting.
She said she was “truly honoured” to “take it on from Nigel”, and added: “Project Fear tactics have had their days and we are going to ensure they never rise from the political ashes ever again.”