UKIP leadership: Jonathan Arnott in bid to replace Nigel Farage

Jonathan Arnott, North East UKIP MEP Image copyright PA
Image caption Jonathan Arnott was elected to the European Parliament in 2014

The North East's UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott has announced his candidacy for the leadership of the party.

The 35-year-old was elected to the European Parliament in 2014 and is a former general secretary of the party.

The leadership race was sparked by the resignation of Nigel Farage, who quit following the EU referendum vote.

Mr Arnott said he wanted to be a "strong and credible voice for the North East".

Many of UKIP's best-known faces have been blocked from contesting the leadership after the Euro sceptic party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) said all candidates must have been a member for at least five years.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Nigel Farage quit as UKIP leader after the EU referendum vote

It means UKIP's only MP, Douglas Carswell, ex-MP Mark Reckless and prominent former spokeswoman Suzanne Evans, who is temporarily suspended from the party, will not be able to enter the contest.

Mr Arnott, said he wanted to appeal to the millions of voters who did not support UKIP in last year's general election, but backed Brexit in the EU referendum.

He warned that the elevation of Theresa May to the premiership meant that "negotiations for the UK's withdrawal from the EU will be in the hands of those who do not actually want us to leave".

He added: "There are many challenges that lie ahead but first we must hold the government's feet to the fire to enact the will of the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit in the referendum."

Candidates must pay a £5,000 deposit to enter the contest, which will be refunded if they secure at least 5% of the vote.

Nominations, which need to be backed by a proposer and 50 supporters from at least 10 branches, close on 31 July.

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