Ukip leadership: Who is Diane James, who has taken over from Nigel Farage as leader?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Diane James has succeeded Nigel Farage as Ukip leader in a result which surprised, well, hardly anybody.

James was the clear favourite in the race, having long been seen as someone with the credibility and mainstream track record to take Ukip forward.

The 56-year-old has been the MEP for South East England since 2014 and is Ukip's justice spokeperson. Her manifesto aims to make Ukip the "enterprise party" and overhaul the party machine.

James, educated at grammar school, worked in private healthcare before becoming an independent local councillor in Waverley, Surrey, in 2006. She subsequently switched to Ukip and began climbing the party ladder.

Many commentators suggested James would be a less controversial choice than her rivals - and thus a more appropriate leader. Indeed she made reference to this during her election campaign, suggesting "I've got no skeletons!"

However James no stronger to criticism. Perhaps the biggest controversy to blight her career so far surrounded her comments about Vladimir Putin. She said of the Russian leader: "I admire him from the point of view that he's standing up for his country." 

When asked if this was because he invades countries, James said: “No, no. He's standing up for his country. He's very nationalistic... I do admire him, he's a very strong leader, he's putting Russia first."