Politics

My work here is done: Britain’s Brexit champion Nigel Farage quits

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Nigel Farage moved the UK Independence Party from the fringes of British politics to victory in the Brexit referendum. Now, he's leaving.

Credit:

Neil Hall/Reuters

Underestimated, disparaged, scorned: Nonetheless, Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, managed to triumph over his many detractors when Britain voted to leave the European Union.

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Now he's done.

Farage, who with UKIP had campaigned for years to leave the EU, told reporters today that his "political ambition has been achieved" and that he was looking forward to returning to ordinary life.

Farage, just the latest British politician to leave after the June 23 vote, had showed rare ability to understand and articulate the fears of many British people. According to journalist Ben Judah, he was unusual in understanding the depth of concern over mass immigration on British public opinion.

“Farage knows that in the USA, France and Britain, the population is rejecting rapid ethnic change,” Judah says. “They are electing nativist ideas and candidates: Trump in the US and Le Front National in France. There’s a refusal to admit this.”

Farage made immigration control the centerpiece of the Brexit campaign — an emphasis often at odds with Prime Minister David Cameron and the governing Conservative policy.

Even within his own party, he remains a highly controversial figure. When Farage’s decision was made public today, Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s only member of parliament, made no comment except to tweet a smiling emoticon in dark glasses.

Outside UKIP, Farage was also a divisive but media-savvy politician. A decade ago, Cameron described UKIP as "a bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists, mostly." Cameron, on the losing side on the Brexit referendum, announced that he would be resigning, too.

Last week, after the referendum result, Farage taunted members of the European Parliament with his victory.

“When I came here 17 years ago and said I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the Europeans Union, you all laughed at me,” he said to jeers and boos. “Well, you're not laughing now."