The ups and downs of the political life of UKIP’s Nigel Farage

A look at the recent topsy-turvy years of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has just resigned, saying he wants his life back.

UK POOL / REUTERS / EBS – The leader of Britain’s insurgent right-wing populist UK Independence Party said on Monday (July 4) he was stepping down after realising his ambition to win a vote for Britain to leave the EU, punching another hole in the country’s chaotic politics.

The departure of brash former commodities trader Nigel Farage would sideline one of the most outspoken and effective anti-EU campaigners from the debate about how to sever Britain’s ties with the other 27 countries in the bloc.

But it could also give his UKIP party – which won just a single seat in parliament last year despite placing a strong third – an opportunity to select a less-polarising figure and take on the mainstream in what is likely to be a radically altered political environment.

Back in May 2014 Farage had hoped his party’s stunning victory in the European Parliament elections would spill over into domestic politics.

At his victory speech after the European elections, Farage told supporters: “UKIP is criticised quite heavily for focusing on Europe and immigration, but I will make a prediction. I think the immigration issue will be even bigger in next year’s general election than it was in the European elections this year.”

Ultimately he didn’t even win his own constituency and briefly resigned as UKIP leader.

Farage’s party has suffered strings of scandals and political gaffes, but as a leader Farage has managed to maintain his folksy image of an ordinary bloke who likes a beer and a smoke. Supporters warm to his jovial demeanour and believe he speaks their language.

He fought the referendum campaign under the slogan “We want our country back” and focused on concerns over immigration from EU countries.

In the early hours of June 24, as the referendum result that Britain had voted to leave the EU became clear, Farage was victorious, declaring June 23 as Britain’s “Independence Day”.

In the European parliament, Farage was greeted with boos and cheers as he gleefully told other members: “You, as a political project, are in denial. You’re in denial that your currency is failing. You are in denial.”

The leave result of the referendum has the potential to bring UKIP into the main stream, but it won’t be under Farage’s stewardship.