Wales politics

UKIP leader Diane James's exit inevitable, Neil Hamilton says

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionNigel Farage said the idea of Neil Hamilton as leader would be a "horror story"

The resignation of UKIP leader Diane James was "inevitable", the party's leader in Wales Neil Hamilton has said.

She stood down on Tuesday, 18 days after being elected successor to Nigel Farage, claiming she did not feel she had "sufficient authority" or support.

Mr Hamilton, who has ruled himself out for the job, said he always thought Ms James was "too fragile" for the post.

Mr Farage said the idea of Mr Hamilton taking over as UKIP leader would be a "horror story".

On Ms James's resignation, the UKIP Wales leader said: "I think it was inevitable, actually.

"I always thought that Diane was too fragile for the stresses and strains of the leadership of a fractious body like UKIP.

"Being a party leader, particularly of a small party like UKIP where you don't have the infrastructure behind you the other parties have got under their leadership, it is a hugely time consuming and stressful job."

Image caption Neil Hamilton met Diane James at the Senedd shortly after her election as UKIP leader

Asked about being leader himself, Mr Hamilton said: "I'm not going to put my hat in the ring for that at all. I'm fully employed here in the assembly.

"That's my day job. I'm in Cardiff in the assembly four days a week on average. It's full on."

He said he "simply" did not have the time to be an interim caretaker leader either.

"And anyway my wife would kill me," he said, referring to Christine Hamilton.

The UKIP Wales leader said he would back North West MEP Paul Nuttall, saying: "He is a big figure, bigger than any of the other candidates.

"He's got the experience, he's been the party chairman before. He's done a massive amount of media. He is the face of UKIP's appeal to areas where Labour has traditionally been strong."

Mr Hamilton dismissed Mr Farage's claim to be interim leader pending a fresh election.

"The UKIP constitution says that when the leader resigns the deputy leader, who is Paul Nuttall at the moment, is in effect the acting leader," he said.

"And the NEC [National Executive Committee] has to appoint a interim leader, which I presume it will do at its next meeting on 17 October."

Image caption Nathan Gill called Diane James, former UKIP leader, an "inspirational politician"

Meanwhile former UKIP Wales leader Nathan Gill expressed "deep regret" over the resignation of Ms James.

Mr Gill, who is UKIP's only Welsh MEP and is an independent member of the assembly, said she would have been an "incredible asset".

"She's a talented and inspirational politician and would have been an incredible asset to UKIP as exhibited already in her very short tenure."

Visiting UKIP AMs in Cardiff in September, Ms James announced that Neil Hamilton, group leader in the Senedd, was the UKIP leader in Wales.

Mr Gill had been appointed to the position in 2014 by Mr Farage, but he said his leadership in Wales had ended with Ms James's election.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites