There will now be a leadership election in UKIP. I believe that it is important that such an election is contested, and that no one candidate is immediately crowned as the new leader. We must learn the lessons of history, or else be doomed to repeat them. When Gordon Brown was elected unopposed as Labour leader, he lacked the democratic mandate needed to run the Labour Party and the country effectively. It came as no surprise to anyone that he lost that General Election in 2010.
It has been a long time since UKIP last had a leadership election. Much has changed in the intervening 6 years. It’s important that we openly discuss how we’re going to make the Party work well in the long term, and that candidates set out a vision for our future: how to ensure that Brexit is actually achieved with a good deal, and then how we proceed from there. Getting our freedom back is one thing, but the next challenge will be how we use that freedom to make Britain great again.
It’s important that there’s more than one voice in that debate, but let me say this: I have known Paul Nuttall, UKIP Deputy Leader, for the last nine years. He is a close personal friend and someone who is completely trustworthy. He understands UKIP’s potential in the North of England, and he is someone who has the ability necessary unite and build the Party into a fighting force capable of making a General Election breakthrough. Without yet knowing who the candidates will be, I can only say that I seriously hope that Paul will be one of them.