The hemorrhage of British political leaders continued on Monday as Nigel Farage, one of the strongest voices in favor of leaving the European Union, called it quits. Farage now becomes the third major political leader to announce plans to step down from office at a time when the country needs to be deciding exactly how it will go about severing ties with the other 27 countries in the bloc.
“During the referendum I said I wanted my country back,” Farage said at a news conference. “Now I want my life back.” As he put it, the 52-year-old commodities trader turned politician now feels his reached his life goal. “The victory for the ‘leave’ side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved,” Farage said. “I came into this struggle from business because I wanted us to be a self-governing nation, not to become a career politician.”
Quitting is hardly new for Farrage, who had twice before said he would be stepping down only to make a comeback. This time, however, he assured it would stick. “I won’t be changing my mind again, I assure you.” Some aren’t buying it, including the Guardian’s Marina Hyde:
A Nigel Farage resignation is for Christmas, but nor for life. Even before the Ukip leader finished the event announcing he was stepping down, Nigel was already softening his stance so much it feels more prudent to cast this as a sabbatical. Think of it as Glenn Close going under the bathwater in Fatal Attraction. You know she’s going to rear back up soon enough.
Although his departure means that one of the most effective campaigners against the EU will no longer be in politics, it could also breathe new life into the right-wing UK Independence Party if a less poralizing figure is selected to lead. One UKIP member who did not hide his glee at Farrage’s resignation? The party’s only member of the British Parliament, Douglas Carswell, who sent out a tweet that consisted entirely of an emoji of a smiley face wearing sunglasses.
Others who were not sad to see Farage resign were his colleagues at the European Parliament, to which he was first elected in 1999. “#NigelFarage is the latest coward to abandon the chaos he is responsible for. This shows that he has no credibility at all,” wrote Manfred Weber, a German member of the European Parliament.
During his career as a political leader, Farage often plunged himself head-first into controversies that almost invariably came tied with accusations that he was a racist, sexist, and (of course) a xenophobe. The Independent compiles some of his most shocking offenses, including the time when he defended the use of a racial slur and when he said breastfeeding women should “sit on the corner.”