UKIP: Richard Braine elected as party leader

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Richard Braine is the chairman of the party’s West London branch

Richard Braine has been elected as the leader of the UK Independence Party.

In a ballot of members, Mr Braine received 53% of the vote – more than double that of his closest rival.

Mr Braine was the favoured candidate of his predecessor, Gerard Batten, who resigned after UKIP’s poor performance in the European elections in May.

The chairman of the party’s West London branch, he beat Freddy Vachha, who won 20% of the vote, Ben Walker, on 14% and ex-deputy leader Mike Hookem, on 13%.

Speaking after his victory, Mr Braine said he wanted to establish UKIP as the “far-moderate voice of common sense” in Britain.

“We have got a great future and we are coming back. I am very excited and looking forward to leadership of this party, bringing the members together and delivering better results,” he said.

Mr Batten, who stood down after little more than a year in charge, congratulated his successor on his “decisive win”.

In a tweet, he called on Mr Braine to reform the party, increase membership and raise funds.

Mr Batten announced his support for Mr Braine after being banned from standing again by UKIP’s national executive committee.

UKIP lost all its European Parliament seats in May’s election.

Changes in leadership

There have been now been eight different UKIP leaders since the referendum in 2016.

Nigel Farage, the party’s most famous figure, stepped down after the Brexit vote, only to resume his post when his successor Diane James quit after less than a month at the helm.

Paul Nuttall then assumed the role, but quit when UKIP performed badly in the 2017 general election. Steve Crowther was then acting leader until Henry Bolton was elected in September that year.

Mr Batten took over after a row in which Mr Bolton’s girlfriend, Jo Marney, was expelled from the party following allegations she had sent racist messages about Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s then-fiancée.

On the day of Mr Batten’s election as leader in April 2018, he said he would resign in 12-months’ time so a full contest could take place.

Piers Wauchope then acted as the party’s interim leader until Mr Braine’s election.