Nigel Farage has resigned as the leader of Ukip just two weeks after Britons voted to leave the European Union, adding that he “couldn’t possibly achieve more”.
Here is his speech in full:
"I am aware that not everybody in this country is happy, indeed, a lot of young people have been wound up by scare stories and are actually very angry, and very scared about their future.
It’s an irony, really, that it’s the youth of the country that appear to be worried. Right across the European Union, it’s the under 30s that are protesting in the streets against undemocratic centralised control and , indeed, against the Euro and pretty much anything that emanates from Brussels .
In time, I hope that some of these sharp divisions can be healed when people come to realise that, actually, life outside the European Union is really very exciting and we’ve got a much better, brighter future being in charge of our own lives. Certainly the stock markets, despite everything George Osborne told us, have rallied very strongly. FTSE is now about 14 per cent higher than it was during its February lows.
It is a delight to see the number of Commonwealth countries rushing forward in a bidding war to be the first people to sign a trade agreement with an independent UK. What the country needs is strong leadership, what it needs is direction, what it needs is not business as usual. I am certain of one thing, the UK will leave the European Union, we have won that, and in terms of our Parliament, our courts, that is a great historic victory. What I am less certain of, is what deal is this government going to cut?
We need a new Prime Minister that puts down some pretty clear red lines, that we’re not going to give in on issues like free movement, and a Prime Minister who is not going to sell us out to what is known as the single market, but what is effectively a big business protectionist cartel. So we need a vision from our new leader, a vision that shows that we are going to engage with the world, that turns us into an enterprise economy.
To do that, to achieve that, we need a team of negotiators that includes figures from across the political spectrum which reflects that Brexit vote , and crucially, we need some business people, who know not only how the world works, but understand the importance of lobbying industry directly. We need to be lobbying the German car industry and the French wine producers, because next year both France and Germany have General Elections.
It is pressure on Merkel, it is pressure on Hollande from within those countries that is likely to get us the best possible deal. And we need to go global, there is no reason to wait for this, at all. As soon as we get a new Prime Minister, we need teams of negotiators. I’m told that we haven’t got the skill! I’m told that we haven’t got the competence or the expertise within our own civil service, which I suppose is the price you pay when you give away the ability to run your own country. So, let’s headhunt them. Let’s get them in from Singapore, or South Korea, or Chile, or Switzerland, or any of these countries who’ve managed to achieve far more in terms of global trade deals than we have as part of the European Union.
So we are now in charge of our own future, and I want us to grab this opportunity with both hands. Now, one of the questions that is being asked is: what of UKIP? What is the future of UKIP after this result? Well, we have clearly established ourselves as the third political force in this country, and this year we’ve extended our elected representation to the Welsh Assembly and the London Assembly. There is not doubt that without us, without the growth in UKIP, there would not have been a referendum. There is also no doubt, that when it came to the ground campaign in this referendum, it was the people’s army of UKIP who were out there delivering the leaflets, putting out the posters and doing all that work that needed, desperately, to be done. I do believe myself that it was UKIP, and UKIP’s messages, that inspired non-voters to go out there and make the difference. Without UKIP< there is no way that the Leave vote would ever have got over the line.
So UKIP needs to be strong. We need to be strong, and push, and try and make sure that this country gets the best possible terms. And in electoral terms, the party now has built up a very loyal following of people, who want to go out and vote UKIP at every given opportunity. And they see us, our voters, they see us as being the one party that’s actually prepared to stand up for ordinary, decent people. I feel that the deeper the crisis in the Labour Party becomes, and there’s certainly no signs of that going away, and the further that the PLP and the leadership get away from their own voters, I feel that’s perhaps where our greatest potential lies. UKIP right now is in a very sound financial position,
I do believe we need some reform of its management structures. There is further professionalism that needs to be done, but the party is in a pretty good place, certainly compared to all of the others. If we do not get, if we do not get, a satisfactory Brexit deal – that allied to the woes of the Labour Party, to the groundswell of support that is there amongst UKIP loyalists – if we don’t get a good Brexit deal, then in 2020, watch this space.
The other subject of speculation has been ‘what am I going to do’? All I can say is, on this long journey, is a great thanks to anybody who has helped me on this journey, a great number of whom are in this room right now. It has been a very long journey. Not at every stage of the way an easy one, although it has been tremendous fun. When I think back to when I first stood for UKIP, in fact when I first stood for anybody, in the Eastleigh by-election which took place in 1994, and I managed to scrape past screaming Lord Such, by a massive 164 votes, and to have gone from that to being part of a national campaign that attracted 17.5 million votes for Brexit says to me that, tough though it has been at times, it has certainly all been worth it. I came into politics from business because I believed that this nation should be self- governing.
I have never been, and I have never wanted to be a career politician., my aim in being in politics was to get Britain out of the European Union. That is what we voted for in that referendum two weeks ago, and that is why I now feel that I have done my bit, that I couldn’t possibly achieve more than we managed to get in that referendum, and so I feel that it is right that I should now stand aside as leader of UKIP.
I will continue to support the party, I will support the new leader, I will watch the renegotiation process in Brussels like a hawk, and perhaps comment in the European Parliament from time to time. I am also very keen to help the independence movements that are springing up in other parts of the European Union because I am certain of one thing, you haven’t seen the last country that wants to leave the EU. It has been a huge chunk of my life, doing this, and it is not easy, perhaps, when you feel a degree of ownership of something to let it go. But it does come, as I say, at a cost, it has come at a cost to me and perhaps to those around me. During the referendum campaign I said I want my country back’, what I’m saying today is ‘I want my life back’, and it begins right now.
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