Britain’s anti-EU UK Independence Party needs a fresh face as leader after failing to make inroads in an election for a parliamentary seat earlier this month, its only lawmaker has told the BBC.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who casts himself as a beer-drinking man of the people, has helped turn UKIP from a fringe movement into a political force that came third in the May election with more than 12% of the vote.
But the opposition Labour Party this month comfortably held on to a parliamentary seat in Oldham in northern England which many had expected UKIP to be a close challenger for.
UKIP lawmaker Douglas Carswell told the BBC his party “needs to change gear and to change its management if it’s to go the next level and the Oldham by-election to me said, very clearly, that I think we need a fresh face”.
“No party is defined by any one person,” said Carswell, who defected to UKIP from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives last year and has ruled himself out of the top job.
Today (18 November) Farage told Euractiv that Carswell was “out on a limb”, and questioned the timing of the comments.
He said, “‘He [Carswell] is out on a limb […] I am not sure how long the party will put up with it.”
During a power struggle after the May national election the party’s then campaign chief accused advisers of creating a “personality cult” around outspoken Farage, who is now involved in one of the two main ‘out’ camps ahead of Britain’s EU membership referendum.
Farage fulfilled a pledge to resign as party leader in May after failing to win a seat in parliament himself but reversed the decision three days later saying he had been persuaded by party officials to stay on.
Farage today said, “”Yes the general election was a disappointment but we’ve got a referendum to look forward to […] I’ve never known the party so united.”
Carswell criticised Farage for questioning the legitimacy of the postal votes following the party’s defeat in Oldham.
“If you are in the business of doing democracy for a living you need to accept the democratic verdict, and the punter didn’t take what we had to offer,” he said.