×

Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage steps down as UKIP leader

Nigel Farage, one of the most well-known proponents of the Brexit movement, has announced that he will stand down as head of the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP).

Speaking on Monday, Farage told reporters that he had "done his bit" and would stand down. He said he would continue to support the party and other independence movements in the European Union (EU).

"I have never wanted to be a career politician, my aim was to get Britain out of the EU and now I feel that I've done my bit, we couldn't have achieved more than that and so I feel it is the right time to stand down," he said.

"During the referendum campaign I said I want my country back, now I'm saying that I want my life back," he added.

Farage has led UKIP since 2006 and has resigned before, last year, before returning to lead the party which has been seen as a key source for rising anti-EU sentiment in Britain over the last few decades.

The right-wing, populist party that has campaigned for the U.K. to leave the EU and for less immigration was founded in 1993. But as leader, Farage became well-known as the outspoken, brash figurehead of the movement for U.K. independence, riling European officials on a regular basis for his anti-EU remarks in the European Parliament, where he served as an MEP.

Nigel Farage
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Nigel Farage

In fact, a sharp rise in support for the party in the 2015 U.K. elections prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to call for a referendum on EU membership that resulted last week in 52 percent of voters electing to leave the EU.

Pro-EU Cameron resigned after the result prompting a leadership battle in the Conservative party. Likewise, the opposition Labour party is facing a leadership crisis with confidence in Jeremy Corbyn at a low ebb. Now, UKIP, will face a leadership race too. Farage declined to endorse any future candidate for the party leadership, however.

Negotiations over Britain's exit from the EU are not expected to begin until a new prime minister is in place. Farage said that the next prime minister had to be a "Brexit prime minister" and that any concessions during the negotiations would mean that the U.K. would get a raw deal from the remaining 27 members of the EU.

He said he wanted to have a new leader by the time of UKIP's annual conference in September.

The announcement prompted a flurry of comments on Twitter with some of the social media site's users questioning Farage over largely precipitating the political uncertainty brought about by the Brexit vote and not sticking around "to sort out the crisis."

Conservative politician and former London mayor Boris Johnson – another key promoter of Brexit – also said he would not run for the Tory party leadership, prompting the same accusation of him.

Douglas Carswell, the first elected member of parliament for UKIP who was told by Farage that he could be sacked after criticizing a controversial UKIP poster used during the referendum campaign, tweeted an emoji to signal his reaction to the news.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt.