UK Politics

UKIP MEPs vie to replace Farage as leader

Nigel Farage Image copyright Reuters

A third UKIP MEP has joined the race to succeed Nigel Farage as party leader.

Bill Etheridge, who represents the West Midlands, said it was time for "renewal and hope" outside the EU.

His announcement comes the day after North West MEP Steven Woolfe launched his campaign, promising to chase Labour's vote "ruthlessly".

North East MEP Jonathan Arnott is also running, while controversial rules have excluded some of the party's best-known names from the contest.

UKIP's ruling National Executive Committee said all candidates must have been a member for at least five years, excluding the likes of the party's only MP Douglas Carswell and suspended former spokeswoman Suzanne Evans.

'Liberal elitists'

Launching his campaign, Mr Etheridge said the UK's future was "beautiful, wonderful" and "democratic".

He is promising a 50% cut in alcohol and tobacco duty and to replace VAT with a local sales tax, BBC Black Country political reporter Rob Mayor said.

Mr Woolf, 48, is UKIP's immigration spokesman.

He said he wanted to tackle social mobility because it is a subject discussed "but never dealt with effectively", and said Labour were run by "champagne socialists, metropolitan, out-of-touch liberal elitists".

"We must ruthlessly go after Labour seats in the North and the Midlands," he said.

UKIP's deputy leader Paul Nuttall has ruled himself out of the race to replace Mr Farage.

Candidates must pay a £5,000 deposit to enter the contest, which will be refunded if they secure at least 5% of the vote.

Nominations will close on 31 July, with declarations to be held on 15 September.