Ukip MEP admits Farage's rivals are 'waiting' in the wings to replace him as leader if he loses general election campaign

  • Nigel Farage has vowed to stand down if he loses in Thanet South
  • A private poll by Ukip has put the Tories on course to retain the seat
  • But Ukip figures insist the party would carry on if Mr Farage left
  • MEP Diane James said 'there are people there waiting' to take over

Ukip figures insist the party would carry on if Nigel Farage left, and that there are future leaders waiting to 'put their hats in the ring'.

Mr Farage has vowed he would stand down as leader if he fails to win the parliamentary seat he is contesting in Thanet South.

A private poll, paid for by a Ukip donor but carried out by experts ComRes put the Conservatives on course to retain the seat by a small margin.

Nigel Farage
Diane James MEP

UKIP MEP Diane James (right) has insisted the party would carry on if Nigel Farage failed to become an MP

But Diane James, an MEP and the party's justice and home affairs spokesman, insisted the show would go on without him and that Ukip was 'not at all' a one-man band.

She said: 'Nigel stated categorically a few weeks ago that if he were not to be elected to the House of Commons he would stand down, that's fact.

'We've got a very, very high-calibre of individuals within Ukip… There are people there waiting. When the leadership race is announced then I'm sure individuals will put their hats into the ring.'

Miss James who recently stood down as a parliamentary candidate for family reasons, said she had said she 'no aspirations' to lead Ukip, but named three possible successors to Mr Farage – deputy leader Paul Nuttall, economics spokesman Patrick O'Flynn and deputy chairman Suzanne Evans, who are all standing as MPs in May.

The poll put the Conservatives on 31 per cent, Ukip on 30 per cent and Labour on 29 per cent in the seat, where Tory MP Laura Sandys – a moderate, pro-European - is standing down.

The Labour vote has shot up in the past month triggering fears in Ukip that Mr Farage could finish in third place. A poll in February, heavily publicised by Ukip, put him on course to win.

Ms James named Ukip MEP Patrick O'Flynn, MP Douglas Carswell and deputy chair Suzanne Evans as potential future leaders

Mr Farage said in his recent autobiography: 'The consequences of me failing to secure a seat for myself in the Commons would be significant for me and the party. It is frankly just not credible for me to continue to lead the party without a Westminster seat of my own.

'Am I supposed to brief Ukip policy from the Westminster Arms pub? No – if I fail to win South Thanet, it is curtains for me. I will have to step down.'

The Ukip vote across the country has dropped in recent months, having shot up after they topped the poll in last year's European elections. Pundits now predict it will win a maximum of five seats in Westminster including that of Tory defector Douglas Carswell in Clacton, Essex.


At least six Tory MPs will defect to Ukip if David Cameron tries to form another coalition with the Liberal Democrats, Nigel Farage has claimed.

The Ukip leader said many Tory backbenchers will rebell if there is another power-sharing deal with Nick Clegg.

He told Mr Farage told Sunday Times that he had had conversations with 'more than a handful' of Tories about joining Ukip if the Prime Minister caves into Lib Dem demands on the terms of an EU referendum.

Mr Farage said the possible defections were 'potentially very exciting stuff'.

He said: 'If Cameron comes back as prime minister in a coalition deal with Clegg and the terms of the referendum are on Clegg lines, not Farage lines, then you may very well see a more serious fracture in the Conservative party than you've seen thus far.

'There is the potential in the next parliament, if there are a decent number of Ukip MPs, that resolve could be stiffened all round.'