18/07/2016 12:59 BST | Updated 19/07/2017 06:12 BST

Why I'm Standing for the Leadership of Ukip

Last week I announced my intention to stand to replace Nigel Farage as leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

I felt prompted to do so after spending weeks reflecting on the outstanding result that followed the June 23 referendum, which of course saw so many people vote to leave the European Union.

My conviction that I could offer even more to my party was confirmed when Paul Nuttall, our deputy leader and my closest political ally, announced he would not be standing for leader at our North West conference in Liverpool last Saturday.

Now is the time, I believe, to bring all of the 17.4million people who voted Leave together under the Ukip umbrella. Only 3.8million of them voted Ukip at the General Election, leaving another 13.6million that we need to reach out to.

Many of those 13.6million voters who did not vote for Ukip last year but did vote "leave" on June 23 have been identified as disaffected former Labour voters. Frankly they will be looking at the current state of the Labour party, and the frankly bizarre battle between its members and its MPs, with absolute bewilderment.

The key theme of my campaign will be to reach out to the 13.6million: working men and women, former Labour just as much as former Conservative, rich or poor, gay or straight, from different religions and ethnicities. I've championed the causes within Ukip for some time that will allow us to reach out to them.

Nigel Farage was the greatest political orator of our time and trying to ape such a successful figurehead would be doomed to failure. After all, look what happened to Chris Evans on Top Gear...

With that in mind, my approach to leadership will be very different to his: you can't out-Nigel Nigel. Any candidate who tries will fall flat on their face; they'll end up being measured by that yardstick.

That is not to say I will be a cookie cutter, production line politician like many of those found currently on the benches at Westminster. Ukip's not like that and neither am I. In fact, if you look at me you'll see that I offer something very different indeed to other political leaders.

We encourage individuality; we encourage views from all corners of the party. It's important that we hear and understand what fellow members of our party say and think. I will seek consensus, using all of the talent we have throughout the party, acting in a collegiate manner that our broad spectrum of Ukip members would rightly expect.

I envision a party which will use the opportunity provided by Brexit to create jobs for working people, to protect our steel industry and manufacturing, to rebuild our fisheries and deregulate our small businesses.

We will stand up for the working people who Labour ignore and the Conservatives despise. And we will be the party that stands up for our small businesses, helping them to create jobs and become the big businesses of tomorrow.

We are not anti-immigrant or anti-immigration, but we are fiercely opposed to the current uncontrolled mass net immigration which drives down wages and ultimately costs jobs.

Thanks to the referendum we are finally moving power back from Brussels to Westminster, but now we must campaign further to devolve that power from Westminster to the people.

The Labour Party is of course in complete disarray, so quite frankly Ukip represents the only alternative to the establishment and will be the only unifying force for Brexit.

Since June 23, the entire DNA of both Ukip and the United Kingdom has changed, and I've been encouraged by news of endorsements I've been receiving from colleagues around the country.

The UK is heading out of the EU, and Ukip is no longer a party of protest, but a party of the future. This is our time.