The new Ukip leader has been announced – and promptly vowed to replace the Labour Party as “the patriotic party of the working people”.

Paul Nuttall, a former university history lecturer, won a crushing victory to take over from Nigel Farage – who stood in as interim leader after Ukip came close to implosion in recent months.

The MEP for North-West England won 62.6 per cent of the votes cast by members – an overwhelming margin over Suzanne Evans, the former deputy chairwoman (19.3 per cent) and little-known John Rees-Evans (18.1 per cent).

He faces an uphill fight to maintain Ukip’s relevance following an exodus of supporters, members and money to the Conservatives after the Brexit vote.

However, Mr Nuttall has spoken of his confidence that he can woo pro-Brexit Labour supporters in the north of England, who are demanding stronger stances on the EU and immigration.

At the weekend, he said: “We have this fantastic opportunity, which we’ve never had before to this extent, to move into Labour working-class communities and mop up votes.

“I think in some of these communities we can replace the Labour party in the next five years and become the patriotic party of the working people.”

Mr Nuttall has strongly right-wing views on crime, opposes abortion and suggested a referendum on the reintroduction of the death penalty for child killers.

Labour campaign co-ordinator Jon Trickett said: "You only need to know one thing about Ukip's new leader, Paul Nuttall: he wants privatisation in the NHS.

"Paul Nuttall has welcomed privatisation of the health service, arguing that 'the very existence of the NHS stifles competition'. By electing Paul Nuttall as their leader, Ukip have sent a clear message that they pose a threat to our NHS."

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "Now on their third leader in as many months, Ukip are too divided, distracted and incompetent to offer any serious solutions for the people of Britain.

"After a leadership contest which the winner himself has described as 'completely shambolic', we've seen brawls and squabbling - but nothing about the issues facing ordinary working people.

"It's the Conservative Party which held a referendum and is now delivering on the people's verdict.

"We will deliver Brexit and more control on immigration - while Ukip continue to squabble on the sidelines."