UK Politics

UKIP leader Diane James appeals for party unity

Diane James speaking at UKIP conference Image copyright AFP

New UKIP leader Diane James has appealed for party unity, urging members to "support me, work with me, win with me".

In a closing address to the party conference in Bournemouth, she also repeated her statement that UKIP was now the "opposition in waiting".

"We have to keep reminding people that the elected government is not committed to Brexit and we are," she said.

On Friday, she had urged PM Theresa May to "get on with" UK exit from the EU.

Mrs May has said "Brexit means Brexit" but indicated that the formal process of leaving the EU will not begin this year.

Earlier on Saturday, Ms James had appeared on the conference stage with her party's only MP, Douglas Carswell, saying it was her "absolute pleasure" to welcome him to the platform.

She said she was "not interested in what has gone on beforehand", in an apparent reference to differences among senior UKIP figures.

Mr Carswell said UKIP members had "made a clear choice" in electing Ms James on Friday.

"We must now all rally behind Diane," he said.


Who is Diane James?

Once a Conservative supporter, Ms James distanced herself from the party and became an independent councillor in 2007, before joining UKIP.

One of UKIP's most fluent and reliable media performers, Ms James, 56, has held several high profile roles in the party, including the deputy chairmanship and spokeswoman for justice and home affairs.

She rose to prominence after almost winning the 2013 Eastleigh by-election from the Lib Dems, coming within fewer than 2,000 votes of victory. She impressed journalists with her performance and relegated the Conservatives to third place.

Ms James went on to enjoy greater electoral success the following year, when she was elected to the European Parliament as MEP for South East England - a position she still holds today.

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