LONDON — The head of the U.K. Independence Party, Nigel Farage, resigned Monday as party leader, the latest political leader to tumble amid the political turmoil following the country’s vote to leave the European Union.
Farage’s departure makes him the third major political figure to announce plans to step aside rather than take ownership of the tumultuous times ahead as the country navigates its departure from the single market of some 500 million people. An odd power vacuum has replaced the staid if boisterous predictability normally typical of British politics since the June 23 EU referendum.
“During the referendum campaign, I said I want my country back. What I’m saying today is I want my life back, and it begins right now,” Farage told reporters.
Farage joins Prime Minister David Cameron, who said he will step aside to allow a successor to deal with the negotiation process. The favourite to replace him, prominent “leave” campaigner Boris Johnson, declined to stand. The opposition Labour Party has troubles of its own, with leader Jeremy Corbyn clinging to office despite having lost a no confidence vote by his party’s lawmakers.
Farage was instrumental in the campaign to have Britain leave the trading bloc, championing the issue of immigration. A much-criticized campaign poster featuring thousands of migrants massed at the border alongside the words “Breaking Point,” typified fears that fueled some Brits’ decision to vote for a British exit, or Brexit.
“The victory for the ‘leave’ side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved,” Farage said. “I came into this struggle from business because I wanted us to be a self-governing nation, not to become a career politician.”
Farage said he would retain his seat in the European Parliament to see out the negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU. He defended his taunting of other lawmakers in the chamber last week, arguing he wanted Britain’s voice to be heard.
Earlier, Britain’s Treasury chief announced plans to cut U.K. corporation tax to less than 15 per cent to encourage companies to invest and ease business concerns about the country’s vote to leave the EU.
Treasury chief George Osborne says the cut is meant to underscore that Britain is “still open for business,” despite the referendum result. A cut of about 5 percentage points brings Britain in line with Ireland’s 12.5 per cent rate.
Osborne told the Financial Times it was time to “make the most of the hand we’ve been dealt.” He is urging the Bank of England to use its powers to avoid “a contraction of credit in the economy.”
Some businesses based in London are considering leaving for other cities like Dublin, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris to benefit from the large EU common market.