In a surprise announcement, Paul Nuttall has said he will not be standing in the race to succeed Nigel Farage as UKIP leader.
Speaking to the party’s North West conference, the UKIP deputy leader ruled himself out of the leadership race, leaving many present visibly shocked.
Mr Nuttall was widely seen as the frontrunner to replace Nigel Farage, and his announcement now leaves the party’s leadership race wide open. Other potential candidates including Steven Woolfe MEP, Diane James MEP, Peter Whittle and Breitbart London’s very own Raheem Kassam.
“I have had to do a lot of soul searching since Monday,” Mr Nuttall said. “And the conclusion I have come to is that it is not the right time for me to stand for the leadership of the party.”
“I have seen firsthand and up close the toll the party leadership has taken on Nigel and I would not wish that lifestyle on anyone, particularly my family, my loved ones and my friends.
He added that he “knew deep down” that being UKIP leader “just wasn’t for me” at this particular point in his life.
However, he insisted he was “not going away” and called for a unified party.
“I would like to thank all those who have supported UKIP over the years and will continue to do so.
“I will stay in my role as deputy leader of the party until our national conference, when I will stand down from that role.
“I will however remain leader of the UKIP delegation of MEPs in the European Parliament so that I can continue to hold the Government’s feet to the fire during the Brexit negotiations.”