Ukip’s leader Nigel Farage has conceded that “not everybody” likes him, as the debate about who should lead the EU referendum ‘out’ campaign continues.
Speaking at a press conference today Mr Farage appeared to suggest he was open to someone else becoming the public face of the official eurosceptic campaign if they had a better chance of winning.
“I think it would be better if it was someone from outside the world of politics, who had no political baggage,” he said.
“As far as my role is concerned, look, not everybody likes me, I accept that.”
The comments should be seen in the context of a statement on LBC Radio earlier in which Mr Farage said he would “of course” be prepared to lead the campaign if pressured to do so.
Mr Farage is a divisive figure. He inspires devotion from some Ukip activists and has taken his party from a small fringe group to one of the three biggest in British politics.
However, leadership ratings before the election also showed that more people had a negative view of him than other party leaders.
Other suggestions to lead the ‘out’ campaign include James Dyson, the vacuum cleaner entrepreneur and inventor.
In pictures: The rise of Ukip
In pictures: The rise of Ukip
1/8 1993: Alan Sked forms Ukip
History professor Alan Sked had been active in anti-EU politics for a while beore he founded Ukip in 1993. He resigned from the party after the 1997 election, concerned that it was attracting far-right members, and has been critical of Ukip since. Picture: Reuters
2/8 2005: Kilroy defects
Former TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk founded Veritas in 2005, after a failed bid to become leader, and took many of Ukip's elected members with him. But the party slowly lost its popularity and didn't put forward any candidates in the last election. Picture: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty REUTERS KD/RUS
3/8 2010: Farage becomes leader, again
Farage had led Ukip from 2006 until 2009, when he stood down to fight against the Speaker, John Bercow, for his Buckingham seat. He failed to win the election and returned to lead the party in November 2010. Picture: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
4/8 2010: Ukip fights for election
Nigel Farage was injured in a plane crash on polling day in the 2010 general election, but his party increased its success in the votes. It fielded 572 candidates and took 3.1% of the vote, though failed to win any seats. REUTERS/Darren Staples
5/8 2013: Eastleigh gains
Ukip's candidate Diane James got the highest ever number of votes for any candidate from the party, but was beaten by the Liberal Democrats. The surge in support gave Ukip confidence ahead of local and European elections later in the year. Picture: Reuters
6/8 2013: Bloom kicked out
Godfrey Bloom, who served as an Ukip MEP from 2004 to 2014, had the whip withdrawn in 2013 after sexist comments and an attack on a journalist. He sat as an independent MEP until 2014, when he ended his term in office. Picture: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
7/8 2014: European election success
Ukip got a higher proportion of the vote than any other party in 2014's European elections, adding 11 new MEPs and taking its total to 24. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
8/8 2014: Carswell defects
Douglas Carswell defected from Ukip at the end of August, and was followed by Mark Reckless at the end of September, who resigned from the Tories amid rumours of many more defections to come. Picture: REUTERS/Toby Melville
But a former staffer of Mr Farage, Raheem Kassam, rubbished the idea, saying earlier this month that he did not believe Mr Dyson was as much of a “household name” as his former boss.
David Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union by 2017.
Mr Farage on Monday accused the PM of “Fifa-style” levels of corruption over the vote, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
The Government has revealed that voters will be asked whether they want to remain in the EU, meaning the ‘out’ campaign will be cast as the ‘no’ campaign and the ‘in’ campaign will be the ‘yes’ campaign.
There is also currently discussion about whether the UK’s taxpayer-funded civil service would be bound by impartiality rules during the campaign period.Reuse content