Ukip MEP Diane James shocks party by standing down as candidate at general election

Ms James' surprise announcement came shortly after she gave a speech on the subject of crime and policing at Ukip's conference in Margate

One of Ukip’s most respected female MEPs unexpectedly quit as a general election candidate yesterday, only hours after giving a well-received speech to the party’s conference.

Diane James will no longer be standing for election in the constituency of North West Hampshire in May, where she had hoped to defeat Conservative candidate Kit Malthouse.

The surprise announcement came shortly after she gave a speech on the subject of crime and policing at Ukip’s conference in Margate, during which she gave no hint of her plans.

Ms James, one of Ukip’s four MEPs for South East England and the party’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman, is understood to have decided she needs to spend more time with a sick family member.

A Ukip spokesman said: “Diane James is standing down as a PPC in North West Hampshire for purely personal reasons.”

In 2013 Ms James finished a narrow second to the Lib Dems in the Eastleigh by-election.

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