UK Politics

UKIP's Nigel Farage should take a break - Douglas Carswell

Douglas Carswell Image copyright Reuters

UKIP leader Nigel Farage "needs to take a break now", the party's only MP Douglas Carswell has said.

Writing in the Times, Mr Carswell said he admired Mr Farage, but questioned his "ill-advised" comments about HIV patients, made in a TV leaders' debate.

Mr Farage ruled out quitting as leader on BBC's Question Time on Thursday, saying he had "phenomenal" support.

It follows a bitter internal row within the party, which has seen two of Mr Farage's senior aides resigning.

In his article, Mr Carswell said that "knowing how difficult it is to lead a party makes me admire Nigel Farage all the more".

"I know that I never could," he added, stressing that he would find it "impossible to simultaneously lead UKIP, be the voice of the party in the Commons, represent my Clacton constituents and at the same time be a husband and a dad".

However, he said that "even leaders need to take a break", adding: "Nigel needs to take a break now."

'Do something else'

He described Mr Farage as "inspirational", saying the party had "done extraordinarily well" under his leadership but now needed to "consider carefully what comes next".

Earlier, Mr Farage challenged his critics to decide whether they wanted him to stay in the party.

He said he had "massive" support from UKIP MEPs, donors and party members to continue in the role, suggesting one person, whom he did not name, was "agitating for change".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionNigel Farage: "Two or three people need to make their minds up"

Addressing the prospect of a future EU referendum, Mr Carswell said: "All of us UKIP supporters should ask one question; Is what I'm doing at this moment making an 'out' vote more likely? If it isn't, stop it and do something else."

He also criticised Mr Farage's comments about HIV patients during the TV leaders' debate last month.

While debating about the NHS, Mr Farage said: "You can come into Britain from anywhere in the world and get diagnosed with HIV and get the retro-viral drugs that cost up to £25,000 per year per patient."

Mr Carswell wrote: "By all means we should highlight the problem of health tourism. But we need to admit that using the example of HIV patients to make the point was ill-advised."

He said the party needed to strike "the right tone" and added: "UKIP has been at its most persuasive when we have been most optimistic.

"Anger is never a great way to motivate people - at least not for very long."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Farage failed to be elected as an MP in Thanet South, where he stood alongside comedian Al Murray

The party has been beset by wrangling since Mr Farage agreed to stay on as leader, days after standing down after failing to get elected in Thanet South.

He had pledged before the general election that he would quit the post if he failed to get elected to Parliament.

Matthew Richardson has left the party, following claims from MEP Patrick O'Flynn that Mr Farage had fallen under the influence of "inexperienced" advisers.

UKIP has also confirmed the departure of Mr Farage's chief of staff Raheem Kassam.

UKIP got nearly four million votes at the election, but returned only one MP - former Conservative Mr Carswell in the Clacton constituency.

More on this story