Ramsey councillor Lisa Duffy said she is “not ruling herself out” of a second bid for leadership of UKIP, after leader Diane James announced she would be stepping down.
Mrs James lasted just 18 days in the role following a lengthy election campaign and cited difficulty creating change at the top of the party for her decision to stand down, which was announced last night (Tuesday).
In the wake of the news, Cllr Duffy, who came second to Mrs James in the leadership election with 4,591 votes, has said she will speak to her friends and family before deciding whether to make a second tilt for the party’s top job.
Cllr Duffy told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m not going to rule myself out at this time. I’ve got friends and family and supporters that I really do need to discuss it with, as to whether or not we want to go through the process again.
“I think I’ve got an awful lot to offer our party, I’ve got some great policies that we were going to bring forward and a very strong team but it does take an awful lot of your own time, your own energy, and it is a very big responsibility and what I wouldn’t want to do is to let our party down.”
The mother-of-six initially ran for leader in the hope of ushering in a “new era” for the party, and caught the attention of national headlines after saying there should be a ban on Muslim faith schools, Sharia courts, and burkas bring worn in high security places.
Cllr Duffy told Radio 4 she wasn’t sure why Mrs James had stood for leadership of the party in the first place and that she hadn’t been able to “have a conversation” with her since the start of the leadership contest.
She said: “Knowing Diane as I have over the last three years, I didn’t believe that this was something that she particularly wanted to do or had the passion to do. She entered the leadership contest right at the last minute, didn’t engage in the process and, over the last 18 days, I’m afraid we haven’t had any leadership from her. So I’m not surprised but I do wish her and her family well.”
She added: “I don’t want to speculate [on why Mrs James stepped down] but I am disappointed for our members but we’ve got an exciting time yet again where our membership can chose a new leader, a strong leader that’ll take UKIP forward for the future.”
Amid rumours that former leader Nigel Farage may once again take over the reigns of the party, Cllr Duffy said she wouldn’t rule it out.
She said: “I’d be surprised if he [Mr Farage] does. Nigel has done an amazing job over the last 23 years, he is out doing things that he wants to do now but we can’t rule anything out and I have no idea who also might put their hat in the ring.”
Cllr Duffy also revealed that she had been spat at and abused during the course of her campaigning for UKIP.
She added: “I was first spat at in 2011 when I was running the Barnsley by-election, we’ve been abused, we’ve had stink bombs thrown at us. I’ve been through an amazing journey, some of it not always pleasant, running elections for UKIP.
“There isn’t a great deal that I’m not prepared for should I take the leadership on.”