- Nigel Farage-backed candidate Henry Bolton elected new UKIP leader in shock result.
- Bolton stood for the Liberal Democrats in the 2005 general election and has worked for the EU.
- Peter Whittle and Anne Marie Waters were strong favourites to win the contest.
- He promised to pressure the government into a hard Brexit.
LONDON — Henry Bolton has been elected the new leader of UKIP in a surprise result.
Bolton, who was backed by Nigel Farage, was confirmed as the pro-Brexit party’s new leader at its Autumn conference in Torquay, south-west England, on Friday afternoon.
Bolton, 54, is a former police officer and served in the army. He stood for the Liberal Democrats in the 2005 general election and spent time working as a common defence strategist for the European Union.
Speaking immediately after the announcement, Bolton said pressuring Theresa May’s government into a hard Brexit will be UKIP’s “core task” under his stewardship.
He added that UKIP will fight for “a nation that is proud to be called British.”
Asked to what extent he will focus on Islam, Bolton said: “Islam is of concern… There is an issue to be discussed. I abhor the rhetoric that we are at war with Islam.”
Bolton to uphold Farage’s legacy
On his personal website, Bolton says he will “resume Nigel Farage’s legacy by restoring UKIP’s relevance and authority.” He was endorsed by four UKIP MEPs, including Mike Hookem, who once called Islam a “killing machine.”
Farage told Channel 4’s Michael Crick that he voted for Bolton, describing him as the “most competent” candidate in the running. In a tweet, Farage claimed he was “delighted” with the result and said Bolton as a “man of real substance.”
Some 12,915 people voted in the leadership contest, which is 46.5% of the party membership.
Other contenders in the race were anti-Islam candidate Anne Marie Waters; the party’s deputy leader Peter Whittle; London Assembly member David Kurten; MEP Jane Collins; Aidan Powlesland, and John Rees-Evans.
Bolton’s victory was a shock to almost all in attendance at the announcement in Torquay. He won 3,874 votes (29.9%), while Waters came second with 2,755 votes (21.3%.)
A number of UKIP MEPs had threatened to quit the party if Waters, who has described Islam as “evil,” took over the party from former leader Paul Nuttall.
Whittle, who is arguably the party’s most well-known remaining figure, was the bookmakers’ favourite to win the contest just hours before the result was announced, but finished in fifth-place with 1,413 votes (10.9%).
Reacting to the news, UKIP MEP David Coburn tweeted: “Congrats to Henry Bolton thank God the awful @AMDWaters or ghastly @prwhittle didn’t win.”
UKIP was in search for its fourth leader in 12 months after Nuttall quit following the party’s poor general election performance. The party won no seats and just 1.8% of the national vote, down from the 12.6% of the vote it won in 2015.
UKIP’s annual conference was also used to relaunch the party’s image following a difficult period since the departure of Farage.
Earlier on Friday, the party revealed its new logo, which people quickly pointed out closely resembles the logo of the Barclays Premier League. Bolton reportedly said he was “fine” with the new design.
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