By a huge margin, Diane James has been elected the new leader of UKIP.
She polled 8451 votes – 47 percent of the total – and in her acceptance speech she, too, declared: “We did it,” adding: “You did it, and I have just done it!”
She said she was “deeply honoured to take over from Nigel Farage” and immensely grateful for what the party has bestowed on her.
Diane, who has been an MEP for two years, declared that UKIP moved mountains when it won the European elections in 2014. “Nobody could take away from UKIP the destruction we’ve caused,” she said.
She noted that the media were present and thanked them for their attendance. “Why are they here?” she asked, then answered her own question: “Because we are the political change movement of the UK.”
She spoke of the talent and enthusiasm of members. “You are the pivotal base of the party,” she said, and promised that in the “huge challenges” to be faced by local councillors in 2017 she would be behind them. “I will make sure you have the backing you need,” she said.
Diane spoke of what she called her ‘hundred day priorities’ which included a focus on policies and to make sure the party is ready for battle, and she called the Prime Minister ‘Magpie May’ for stealing some of our policies. She sent Mrs May a message: “When you try and bury UKIP, when you try and demoralise us, just remember where your best ideas came from and where they will come from in the future.”
She paid tribute to her MEP colleagues. “The calibre of these individuals is sometimes ignored,” she said, adding she wants them to continue being the thorn in EU President Jean-Claude Junckers’ side. “Most importantly I want Nigel to keep giving him grief,” she added.
Paying further tribute to Nigel, she described him as a ‘stalwart of the party’ and asked conference to stand to thank him again; they did. “I am not Nigel lite,” she said, adding that would do everything she could to achieve the political success that he has handed over to her.
She went on to what she called “the elephant in the room” – Brexit. “We’ve won a heat,” she said. “The UK’s signature ink is not dry on that document and until we get a signature, we’re still in and we have to obey everything that goes through the EU.
“But there will be no associate membership of the EU, no Brexit lite, no membership of the single market with its controls and no unrestricted immigration. There will be a true 100 percent European Union exit, a sovereign independent UK, a UK free to make trade deals with anyone it wants and an immigration policy that allows entry regardless of origin to those who have the expertise and social values this country wants.”
She warned the Prime Minister that UKIP is the opposition party in waiting and added: “From one grammar school girl to another, stop the fudge, get on with it and give UKIP the best Christmas present it has ever had.”
She said we would confound our critics, outwit our opponents and “make UKIP the winning machine it will become”.
She was given a standing ovation.
Diane James 8451 47 percent
Lisa Duffy 4591 25.5
Bill Etheridge 2052 11.4
Phillip Broughton 1545 8.6
Liz Jones 1203 6.7
(Figures allow for rounding)