Brexit Champion Farage Mulls Starting New Party, Times Says

(Bloomberg) -- Nigel Farage, former leader of the U.K. Independence Party and a champion of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, is considering forming a new pro-Brexit party, the Sunday Times reported.

Farage is dismayed that UKIP, which long opposed Britain’s membership in the EU, has been riven by internal politics and scandal in the 18 months since he resigned as leader, the Sunday Times said, citing unnamed people close to Farage. The paper quoted a person close to him as saying that Farage would “head back to the front line” if there was a chance of Brexit not being delivered.

UKIP’s current leader, Henry Bolton, lost a no-confidence vote by the party’s national executive committee Sunday following a scandal related to remarks made by his former girlfriend Jo Marney about Prince Harry’s fiancee, the U.S. actress Meghan Markle. “The vote was carried unanimously” with the exception of Bolton, the party said in a statement.

Unless Bolton quits within 28 days, the party will hold an emergency general meeting of members to ratify or reject the board’s action. Asked ahead of the vote if he would resign, Bolton told ITV that he wouldn’t. “A leadership contest now would be financially almost unviable for the party,” he said.

If Bolton is forced to resign, he will be the fourth UKIP leader to depart in just 16 months.

Held Talks

Farage held talks earlier this month with Arron Banks, the British businessman and political donor who helped found the Leave campaign and was a major UKIP backer when Farage was party leader, about bankrolling the new party, the Sunday Times said. It also said that Richard Tice, a real estate investor who also co-founded the Leave campaign, would have a role in the new party.

The new movement would be modeled on the U.K.’s ruling Conservative Party, with local associations around the country and policies determined in part by the results of focus groups, the paper said.

Farage had been expected to announce a new party as long ago as September, when it appeared Anne Marie Waters, a UKIP politician known for virulently anti-Islamic views, would win UKIP’s leadership vote. But he held off after Bolton unexpectedly prevailed, the paper said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.