UKIP MEP: We have people ‘waiting’ to replace Nigel Farage

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UKIP MEP Diane James has suggested that a number of party members are “waiting” to replace Nigel Farage as leader if he does not win at the General Election.

Ms James, who is the MEP for South East England, was reacting to a poll that showed the UKIP leader second in his South Thanet seat – one point behind Tory Craig Mackinlay, and just one point ahead of Labour.

Mr Farage recently pledged to stand down from the party leadership if he does not win the seat next month.

Speaking to Radio 4, Diane James said: “Nigel stated categorically a few weeks ago that if he were not elected to the House of Commons, he would stand down. That’s a fact. He has made that statement.

“We have a very high calibre of individuals within UKIP. They are frequently on the BBC and other media outlets: Suzanne Evans, Patrick O’Flynn, Paul Nuttall.

“There are people there waiting… when the leadership race is announced, I’m sure individuals will put their hats into the ring.”

Paul Nuttall – currently UKIP’s deputy leader – last month implored Catholic voters who oppose same-sex marriage to join his party.

He has also dismissed Labour’s plans to tackle homophobic bullying in schools as “politically correct nonsense”.

Another of the potential choices, former tabloid journalist Patrick O’Flynn, last year defended former candidate Kerry Smith when he was recorded on a foul-mouthed tirade about “poofters” and the party’s “f**king disgusting” LGBT group.

Mr O’Flynn said that Mr Smith was not “seriously homophobic” and dismissed calls for him to be sacked for the remarks – though he eventually was.

Also last year. deputy chairman Suzanne Evans penned an article attacking PinkNews – after a report that a number of UKIP politicians had been duped into following a hoax UKIP Twitter account that posted homophobic messages.

She accused PinkNews of “scraping the deepest depths of the barrel” for listing the politicians that had unwittingly followed the account – and also labelled PinkNews “left-wing” and “gullible”.