Nick Griffin has signalled his intention to quit as leader of the British National Party after the party conceded it suffered a "bloody nose" at the hands of voters this month.
The far-right MEP, who was soundly defeated in his own bid to become an MP, said he would depart by the end of 2013. "By then I would have been leader of the BNP for 15 years and that is long enough," he said.
He told a post-poll strategy meeting that the timing was to allow him to complete work on the party's administrative and political machine before handing over to a younger successor with less "baggage", and so that he could concentrate on being re-elected to the European Parliament in 2014.
However, the move is bound to be seen as an attempt to forestall any leadership challenge in the wake of the poor showing. Mr Griffin was beaten into third place, 18,000 votes behind Labour, in Barking, east London, where the party was also wiped out in local council elections, losing all of its 12 seats.
The BNP failed to win a single Commons seat despite fielding more than 300 candidates, and could only increase its overall vote by 1.8 per cent to 514,819. Its number of council seats was more than halved to 19, with 27 of the 29 up for re-election on 6 May losing their places. It came despite a year of increased national exposure thanks to Mr Griffin and his colleague Andrew Brons being elected to serve as MEPs and the leader's appearance on BBC's Question Time.
The party said that, by the time Mr Griffin leaves, its election-fighting machine will have been "revolutionised".
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