Paul Nuttall has quit as Ukip leader with immediate effect following a terrible set of General Election results.
The MEP only took over as leader seven months ago, and his brief tenure in charge was marked by controversies about his past and the increasing electoral irrelevance of Ukip.
The party only ran a limited slate of candidates in the General Election, and Nuttall finished third in Boston and Skegness – winning just 3,308 votes.
The party focused its election campaign on tackling the threat of radical Islam, and called for the banning of the burka and examining the genitals of young Muslim women to check for signs of female genital mutilation.
Speaking this morning, Nuttall said that like the tide, Ukip’s fortunes will come in and go out again.
He added: “I am standing down today as the leader of Ukip with immediate effect. This will allow the party to have a new leader in place by the conference in September.
“The new rebranded Ukip must be launched and a new era must begin with a new leader.
“I never envisaged that I would lead the party into three by-elections and a general election in the space of six hectic months. I wanted at least a year of calm to rebrand and rebuild the party’s structures.”
Former party chairman Steve Crowther has taken over as interim leader, but rumours are already circulating that Nigel Farage may return for a third stint in charge.
In the 2015 General Election Ukip picked up 3.8million votes - although just one seat - as it rode a tide of eurosceptism.
Just two years on, and the party only secured half a million votes - the same as the Greens - as voters deserted the anti-Brussels outfit,
Even before Nuttall’s resignation, Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge said “heads must roll” in order the save the party.
Etheridge said Nuttall had: “had surrounded himself by appallingly bad advisors who have overseen failure after failure.”
He added: “This election has been a disaster for Ukip, I can only apologise to all those activists who worked so hard in this election despite there being no national campaign to speak of apart from talking about burkas.
“These advisors have led the party down a route of authoritarianism and an obsession with Islam which has turned off many voters when we should have been focusing on Brexit.
He added: “Paul was overwhelmingly elected as UKIP leader because the membership believed that he could unite the party and lead us onto more success but what we have seen is three electoral disasters in a row with the same people at the top, refusing to learn from their mistakes.
“Heads must roll to save the party which right now feels like a dictatorship and the leader is not the dictator.”
Another Ukip MEP, Jonathan Arnott, also criticised the party’s focus on tackling radical Islam.