Nigel Farage has stepped down as Ukip leader prompting a flood of criticism of the decision which comes in the wake of the very EU referendum result he helped engineer.
Speaking at The Emmanuel Centre in London, Farage said victory for the Leave campaign meant "my political ambition has been achieved".
He added: "I came into this struggle from business because I wanted us to be a self-governing nation, not to become a career politician.
"I want my life back - and it begins right now."
Leading the charge against Farage following his speech was singer Charlotte Church who did nothing to hide her anger.
The sentiment was echoed by David Baddiel and others.
Farage, 52, has had two stints as leader of the Eurosceptic party since 2006, and announced he was quitting the post after failing to win a Commons seat in the 2015 general election, only to change his mind days later.
He confirmed to The Huffington Post UK that he would continue to serve as an MEP.
He also said he would be happy to be a part of the government’s Brexit negotiation team put together by the next prime minister. “I might have something to give if they want it. If they don’t, that’s fine,” he said.
Farage said his political career since first standing for Ukip in the Eastleigh by-election of 1994 had been “a long journey, not at every stage of the way an easy one, although most of it, I have to say, has been tremendous fun”.
He added: “Tough though it’s been at times, it’s all certainly been worth it.
“I came into politics from business because I believed that this nation should be self-governing. I have never been and I have never wanted to be a career politician.
“My aim in being in politics was to get Britain out of the European Union. That is what we voted for in that referendum two weeks ago, and that is why I now feel that I’ve done my bit, that I couldn’t possibly achieve more than we managed to get in that referendum.
“So I feel it’s right that I should now stand aside as leader of Ukip. I will continue to support the party, I will support the new leader, I will watch the renegotiation process in Brussels like a hawk and perhaps comment in the European Parliament from time to time.
“I’m also very keen to help the independence movements that are springing up in other parts of the European Union, because I’m certain of one thing - you haven’t seen the last country that wants to leave the EU.
“It has been a huge chunk of my life, doing this, and it’s not easy perhaps when you feel a degree of ownership of something to let it go. But has come at a cost to me and perhaps to those around me. During the referendum campaign, I said I want my country back. What I’m saying today is I want my life back, and it begins right now.”
The Ukip leader's resignation comes four days after fellow Leave campaigner, Boris Johnson, announced he would not run for the Tory leadership after his former ally Michael Gove declared he would.
Paul Nuttall and Steven Wolfe are likely to run in the race to place Farage.
Douglas Carswell appears to have ruled himself out telling The Huffington Post UK his chances of standing were “somewhere between nil and zero”.
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more