Nigel Farage today resigned as Ukip leader, claiming he wanted his life back.
The MEP, who has been one of the country’s most recognisible Eurosceptic figures over the past ten years, made the announcement at a press conference in Central London.
Farage, who famously ‘unresigned’ as party leader last May, insisted today that this time his resignation was permanent.
In front of Ukip MEPs and other party officials, Farage made the shock announcement less than two weeks after the country voted to leave the European Union.
Ukip's only MP, Douglas Carswell - who has often clashed with Farage over campaignstyle and tactics - tweeted a smiley face emoji after the announcement.
In his resignation speech, Farage said: "I have decided to stand aside as Leader of UKIP. The victory for the 'Leave' side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved. I came into this struggle from business because I wanted us to be a self-governing nation, not to become a career politician.
"Ukip is in a good position and will continue, with my full support to attract a significant vote. Whilst we will now leave the European Union the terms of our withdrawal are unclear. If there is too much backsliding by the Government and with the Labour Party detached from many of its voters then UKIP's best days may be yet to come".
He added: "I want my life back - and it begins right now."
Farage told The Huffington Post UK he would serve out the rest of his time as an MEP in the European Parliament.
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.
Asked about Carswell's tweet, Farage said he was "pleased that he is smiling" because "that's not something I’ve seen very often from him".
Speaking to the HuffPost UK after the press conference, Carswell paid tribute to Farage, who persuaded him to defect from the Tories to Ukip in 2014.
He said: "I salute his determination down the years to push for this referendum and his courage, and that needs to be credited.
"I haven't always agreed with him on the best way of winning over people who weren't already convinced, but I will be the first to give credit to his achievements."
He later told the BBC the chances of him running to be Ukip leader were "somewhere between nil and zero".
Another prominent Ukip figure to rule himself out is Neil Hamilton, who today told HuffPost UK he would "absolutely not" stand for the party leadership.
The former Tory MP was elected to the Welsh assembly as a Ukip candidate in May, despite Farage trying to block his nomination.
He quickly moved to overthrow Ukip's leader in Wales, Nathan Gill, as the party's leader on the Assembly, prompting rumours he was preparing the ground for a national leadership bid.
This afternoon, Hamilton said: "I am too old and I've got my hands full in Wales.
"I will continue to give my all to Ukip, but I don't want to be the leader."
When asked who he felt should take over from Farage, Hamilton talked up Ukip's Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall, claiming the Bootle-born MEP is an "authentic Scouser" who could appeal to northern voters.
He said: "Ukip's future is to replace the Labour Party rather than to replace the Conservative Party by appealing to the working class who the Labour Party has often ignored.
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