“I now feel that I’ve done my bit, that I couldn’t possibly achieve more,” Farage told reporters in London on Monday. “It’s right that I should now stand aside as leader. What I said during the referendum campaign is I want my country back. What I’m saying today is I want my life back. And it begins right now.”
The referendum result marked a personal success for Farage, who in the early 1990s helped to found a party later described by Cameron as “a bunch of fruitcakes, loonies, and closet racists.” That represented a misjudgment as the prime minister found himself having to turn more euroskeptic to maintain his party’s appeal to voters, ultimately calling the referendum on EU membership which sank him.
While UKIP won just one seat in last year’s general election, it was able to rally supporters in part because of Farage’s sound bites, as well as his partiality to a pint of beer and a cigarette. He began referendum night predicting defeat, only to mark the dawn declaring Britain’s “Independence Day.”