Nigel Farage withdraws his resignation and stays on as UKIP leader

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Nigel Farage withdraws his resignation and stays on as UKIP leader Nigel Farage has decided to stay on as leader of the UK Independence Party – despite resigning last week.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage stood down on Friday, after he was beaten by Tory Craig MacKinlay in the South Thanet constituency.

The politician made good on his pledge to step down if he failed to become an MP – but appears to have had a change of heart, after being persuaded to stay by the party’s execs.

Steve Crowther, the party’s chairman, said: “As promised, Nigel Farage tendered his official resignation as leader of UKIP to the NEC. This offer was unanimously rejected by the NEC members who produced overwhelming evidence that the UKIP membership did not want Nigel to go.

“The NEC also concluded the UKIP’s general election campaign had been a great success. We have fought a positive campaign with a very good manifesto and despite relentless, negative attacks and an astonishing last minute swing to the Conservatives over fear of the SNP, that in these circumstances, four million votes was an extraordinary achievement.

“On that basis Mr Farage withdrew his resignation and will remain leader of UKIP. In addition the NEC recognised that the referendum campaign has already begun this week and we need our best team to fight that campaign lead by Nigel. He has therefore been persuaded by the NEC to withdraw his resignation and remain leader of UKIP.”

Mr Farage has come under intense scrutiny for making claims about HIV during the election campaign – claiming during the BBC leadership debate that the UK is now “incapable” of treating Britons with HIV.

He has also been accused of “ducking” gay rights issues by pulling out of a planned Q&A with PinkNews, making him the only party leader to not take part.

David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Natalie Bennett and Nicola Sturgeon have all answered questions from PinkNews readers – but Mr Farage refused to do so.

He also pulled out of a BBC Newsbeat discussion last week, after Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband were intensely scrutinised on gay rights.

UKIP is the only one of the main UK-wide parties to have pledged an anti-LGBT policy, with the party’s Christian Manifesto – which was not released to the press – calling for a ‘conscience’ law to weaken equality legislation, and accommodate the beliefs of people who oppose gay rights.

Suzanne Evans had previously been set to take over as interim UKIP leader.