UK Politics

Who is new UKIP leader Henry Bolton?

Henry Bolton Image copyright PA

Henry Bolton's surprise election as UKIP leader marks one of the most meteoric rises in British politics in recent years.

The former army officer turned security consultant only joined the party in 2014 and, until recently, was scarcely a household name within UKIP let alone national politics.

Although he started out the leadership campaign trail as a relative outsider, he steadily gained a series of endorsements from other contenders as they dropped out.

Crucially, he received a nod from Nigel Farage, who was anxious not to see Anne Marie Waters, an anti-Islam campaigner and the bookies' favourite, win the contest.

It was not an outright endorsement - Mr Farage merely agreed to act as his "political referee" - but the best known former UKIP leader said he was "delighted" by Mr Bolton's victory, describing him on Twitter as "real man of substance".

Mr Bolton beat Ms Waters into second place in the contest, winning with nearly 4,000 of the 12,915 votes cast.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Henry Bolton and wife Tatiana Smurova-Bolton

The new UKIP leader has been on a long political journey, having stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate against the future Chancellor Philip Hammond in Weybridge and Runnymede in 2005, coming third with 7,000 votes, soundly beating UKIP's candidate.

The 54-year-old, who was born in Kenya, was commissioned in the Wessex Regiment in the Territorial Army in 1992, and promoted to captain in 1994.

He served as a infantry officer and tank crewman in Germany, Belize, Cyprus and Bosnia.

In 2013, he was awarded the OBE in the New Year Honours "for services to international security and stabilisation" during a tour of duty in Helmand, Afghanistan - where he served as stabilisation team leader, of the provincial reconstruction team.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Bolton had the backing of former leader Nigel Farage

He also worked for the United Nations and spent three years working with the European Union in Common Security and Defence Policy roles.

After leaving the army, for eight years he was a police officer in the Thames Valley force, during which time he received an award for outstanding bravery.

In 2016, he stood for the post of Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, finishing in second place.

Mr Bolton has insisted he is committed to the job for the long term and not merely keeping the seat warm for Nigel Farage to make yet another return.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some UKIP supporters were shocked by the result

He has said seeing Brexit through and delivering on the wishes of those who voted to leave is its "core task" but, at the same time, he has said UKIP cannot be a single issue party.

He faces a tough task in trying to heal the wounds caused by a divisive leadership contest.

Speaking to Kent News during the campaign he warned against UKIP turning itself into the "UK Nazi party" under the "wrong leadership".

"Ukip was set up to fight the 'totalitarian' effects of EU influence on British society," he added.

"Therefore, I will not sit back and watch the party be hijacked by those who seek to now seize on our success to drive forward their own agenda."

In his victory speech he quoted a motto from the Sandhurst Military Academy, from which he graduated, insisting that his intention was to "serve to lead". He has said he does not expect to be paid in the role.

He lives in Kent with his wife Tatiana and his three children, the youngest of whom was born during a train journey between Kent and London in 2016.

He is chairman of the Manston Airport supporters group Why Not Manston.

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