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Troubled UKIP seeks to unite as Trump ally Farage leaves

AFP  |  London 

Britain's anti-party UKIP will announce a new leader Monday to succeed Nigel Farage and seek to unite a party beset by infighting and division despite its Brexit victory.

Since his resignation following the referendum in June, Farage has ridden the wave of his campaign's success to the United States where he emerged as a keen ally of President-elect Donald Trump.

But his Independence Party has been reeling from internal crises, including high-profile resignations, claims of misappropriated funds and a fight between two its European lawmakers.

Three candidates are now competing for the leadership - former deputy leader Paul Nuttall, former deputy chairman Suzanne Evans and party activist John Rees-Evans - with the winner to be announced on November 28 after a vote by party members.

Ballots for the contest close today.

Nuttall, an MEP and firm favourite for the job, has pledged to "unite the party" if elected, demanding an end to "infighting and squabbling".

Evans, a former BBC radio reporter deemed his closest challenger, says the party must broaden its appeal to include women and minorities, in order to win seats in

Meanwhile, the candidacy of businessman Rees-Evans, a former soldier, has been largely overshadowed by his calls to bring back the death penalty for paedophiles.

The leadership vote follows the resignation in October of Farage's successor Diane James after only 18 days in the job and her subsequent departure from the party on November 21.

She said her relationship with the party had become "increasingly difficult" and she had "no support within the executive".

The favourite to replace her, Steven Woolfe, quit in October following an altercation with a fellow MEP at the European that left him hospitalised - a further embarrassment for UKIP.

"I have come to the conclusion that UKIP is ungovernable without Nigel Farage leading it and the referendum cause to unite it," Woolfe said in a statement published online.

Farage stepped into the breach as interim leader after James's resignation but ruled out returning longer-term, having achieved his life mission when voted to leave the on June 23.

Despite holding no public office, the beer-drinking "man of the people" - as he is often described - became the first British politician to meet Trump following the Republican's election win, after joining him on the campaign trail.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 25 2016. 22:07 IST