Nigel Farage was the most tenacious figurehead for Britain to leave the EU. It was Farage and his party, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), that have been calling for a referendum for decades.
Today, he became the latest leader of the Leave camp to quit. At a press conference, Farage said that he was stepping down as leader of UKIP because he’d achieved his objectives.
I am not and I have never been, a career politician. My aim in being in politics was to get Britain out of the European Union. That is what we voted for… I now feel that I’ve done my bit; that we couldn’t possibly achieve more than we’ve done in that referendum.
It has come as a cost to me and perhaps to those around me. During the referendum I said I wanted my country back. What I’m saying today is, I want my life back.
(It may be very tempting for those 16.1 million people—or 48.1%—who voted against Brexit to respond: “So do we.”)
Farage has resigned before. After failing to win a seat in Parliament at the last UK general election in May 2015, Farage said he’d step aside, but was quickly reinstated. This time appears more final.
His resignation is the latest in a string of fallen leaders. David Cameron, the UK prime minister, campaigned for the country to remain in the EU. When his side lost, and facing not only the exit of the UK from the European Union but also its possible dissolution, Cameron resigned.
Boris Johnson, former mayor of London and a prominent Brexit campaigner, was tipped to become the next prime minister but was the next to crumble as he lost key support in his own party. On the political left, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing a deep lack of confidence from his own party that might also force him to resign.
Before the country’s elections in 2015, UKIP’s demand for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU—its main campaign platform—was causing Tory MPs to defect and finding voters. So rattled was the Conservative Party that Cameron promised a referendum if he won. After unexpectedly getting a majority, the Conservatives followed through with their promise—and the result was Brexit.
As Farage resigned, he said: “There would not have been a referendum without UKIP.”