Nigel Farage has returned as UKIP leader until a new election is held to find a successor to Diane James, who quit after 18 days. It's not the first time Farage has given up the leadership only to return in a hurry.
"I have spoken to the Electoral Commission this morning and I am technically still leader of the party as Diane James's forms did not get processed, so I will continue as the interim leader," Farage told the British Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday.
James reportedly refused to sign a document formalizing her nomination on Tuesday evening and because she had not appointed a deputy leader, a reversion to Farage was triggered.
Farage joked on the BBC about his past, failed efforts to give up the UKIP leadership, saying: "I keep trying to escape... and before I'm finally free they drag me back."
Farage has led the UKIP party almost without interruption since 2006. After 2015's general election, he resigned from the post after failing to win the South Thanet seat, only to return days later citing a wave of support from party allies and members. Then, after the "Brexit" referendum Farage had so long campaigned for, he announced he would be quitting politics having accomplished his mission. At the time, he said that he "wanted his life back."
However, Farage remains in his seat at the European Parliament, and had been using his recent down time to make campaign trail appearances alongside US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Nevertheless, Farage on Wednesday said that his return to the party leadership would only be on an interim basis until Diane James' replacement was found.
"Not at all. I've done my job," Farage said when asked by Sky News about the possibility of returning. "It is time for somebody else to do the job," said Farage.
The reasons for James' resignation remain unclear, with "The Financial Times" citing the poor health of her husband, while "The Daily Telegraph" reports she had had doubts since she was spat at on a train station platform.
UKIP has been split since June. It has one member in the UK Parliament, former Conservative Douglas Carswell, despite winning 12.6 percent of the popular vote in 2015's general election. Britain's first-past-the-post voting system can significantly marginalize the parliamentary reputation of smaller parties.
jbh/msh (AFP, AP)