New UKIP leader Diane James says Vladimir Putin is one of her ‘political heroes’

Diane James
James was elected UKIP’s new leader on Friday. BBC

The UK Independence Party’s new leader, Diane James, just confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is one of her main political heroes.

James, who was elected Nigel Farage’s successor on Friday at the party’s conference in Bournemouth, appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics to discuss her new role with Andrew Neil.

James has in the past expressed admiration for the Russian President. “I admire him from the point of view that he’s standing up for his country,” she said in an interview with LBC in April. Neil brought the subject up on Sunday morning — this is what was said:

ANDREW NEIL: “Other than Vladimir Putin, who is your main political hero?”

DIANE JAMES: “Certainly not Trump, certainly not Clinton”

NEIL: “I didn’t ask who wasn’t I asked who is”

JAMES: “I can’t think of anybody at the moment apart from maybe Mrs. Thatcher and Winston Churchill”

NEIL: “So, Putin, Churchill, and Thatcher?”

JAMES: “uh-hm”

Watch the exchange in the clip below:

James won nearly half of the membership’s vote to be elected the right-wing, pro-Brexit party’s leader on Friday. In her acceptance speech, she said UKIP is the “opposition party in waiting” and vowed to pressure Theresa May to deliver the “hard-Brexit” Brits voted for in the June EU referendum.

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