Friday 16th September 2016 saw UKIP embark on a new era with my election as the new leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party.
During my acceptance speech I noted that it is truly an honour to lead UKIP which won the European elections in 2014 and easily came third by number of votes cast in the 2015 General Election, even if we were handicapped by a flawed and morally bankrupt ‘First Past The Post’ electoral system.
I also declared my objective for UKIP to become the ‘opposition in waiting’ in the UK.
I was and am absolutely adamant that UKIP, on behalf of 17.4 million voters, will not accept ‘Brexit lite’ and that it is:
- NO to EU associate membership
- NO to Single Market controls
- NO to unrestricted and uncontrolled freedom of movement into this country for 450 million EU citizens
…and YES to
- A 100% EU exit
- A sovereign independent UK
- A UK free to make trade deals with whoever and whenever
- To controlled immigration, allowing entry regardless of origin to those with skills & expertise this country needs
As MEP for South East England, I am a member of the EU Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs committee where I will be watching the UK’s approach to Brexit negotiations with the EU very carefully.
The opposition narrative to undermine UKIP however continues unabated. I have been asked some ridiculous questions since I have become leader including this one: “Who are my ‘political heroes’?” Ridiculous questions demand hasty answers like those reported because in today’s multifaceted, fast paced, complex, inter-connected world, ‘Hero Leadership’ is an antiquated concept.
Political parties may have a person at the helm, but behind that leader is a team focused on winning. Today’s successful leaders build and direct teams. Successful political parties are using new tools, but fundamentally are built on a collegiate approach to policy making and explanation to voters. This is the winning political formula in the modern age.
It has been my absolute pleasure during my nationwide ‘Meet Diane4Leader’ events to interact with the Grassroots talent of UKIP across the country. Looking to the future I will be encouraging many of these people to ‘step up’ and take more prominent roles in UKIP at all levels. So if asked again about who are today’s ‘political heroes’ my answer will always be – the hardworking members of UKIP.
Without UKIP members as a democratic force in UK politics, the UK would not have had the EU Referendum, not won the vote for Leave and will be not be able to ensure that this Tory Government delivers a Global Trading, Outward Looking, Brexit Britain.
I look forward to meeting many of you at UKIP meetings nationwide over the months ahead.