Diane Martine James (born 20 November 1959) is a British politician who was a Brexit Party Member of the European Parliament. She was briefly leader-elect of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) but resigned before formalising her leadership, and used to be one of three UKIP Members of the European Parliament for South East England.
|Leader of the UK Independence Party|
16 September 2016 – 4 October 2016
|Preceded by||Nigel Farage|
|Succeeded by||Nigel Farage|
|Deputy Chair of the UK Independence Party|
24 February 2016 – 16 September 2016
Served with The Earl of Dartmouth
|Preceded by||Suzanne Evans|
|Succeeded by||Suzanne Evans|
|UKIP Home Affairs and Justice Spokesperson|
21 July 2014 – 16 September 2016
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Jane Collins|
|Member of the European Parliament|
for South East England
1 July 2014 – 1 July 2019
|Preceded by||Sharon Bowles|
|Succeeded by||Alexandra Phillips|
|Born||20 November 1959|
Bedford, United Kingdom
|Political party||Brexit Party (2019–present) |
Independent (2007–11, 2016–19)
UK Independence Party (2011–16)
Conservative (before 2007)
|Alma mater||University of West London|
James was born in Bedford in 1959, and was a councillor on Waverley Borough Council from 2007 until 2015, when she lost the seat to the Conservative Party. She was elected to the European Parliament in 2014. Following the resignation of Nigel Farage, she was elected leader of UKIP in September 2016 as his successor. She resigned from the leadership of the party on 4 October 2016, 18 days after being elected. On 21 November 2016, James announced that she was leaving UKIP and would henceforth sit as an Independent. The length of her tenure was met with significant public and press ridicule.
James was born in Bedford in 1959, where her father was an engineer and her mother a housewife. She was educated at Rochester Grammar School, Kent and Thames Valley University, Slough. James spent three decades working in the health industry, where she established an international consultancy firm. She is fluent in both French and German.
James was elected to Waverley Borough Council as an Independent, representing Ewhurst ward, after falling out with local Conservatives in 2007. She announced she was joining the UK Independence Party (UKIP) shortly after the 2011 local elections, but said that she would not stand down and fight a by-election. She lost her seat in 2015 after standing as the UKIP candidate in that year's elections. Her fellow UKIP councillors all lost their seats at the same time.
James came second in the 2013 Eastleigh by-election with 27.8% of the vote, an increase of 24.2% on the 2010 figure. She was elected to the European Parliament in the 2014 election. James was the party's Home Affairs spokesperson, represented UKIP on the BBC's Question Time, and took part in debates at the Cambridge Union Society.
In December 2014, she was selected by UKIP in North West Hampshire to be its parliamentary candidate, having been given a 1.2% chance of winning. However, a few hours after making a speech at the 2015 UKIP Spring Conference in Margate, Kent, she stepped down from the Westminster candidacy "for personal reasons".
She joined the Brexit Party in early 2019.
Following the resignation of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, James stood in the election to succeed him in August 2016. She emerged as one of the frontrunners. On 16 September she was announced as the new leader, having received 8,451 votes (46.2% of votes cast); she was the first woman to hold the post.
On 4 October 2016, James confirmed that she would not be pursuing the leadership of the party despite winning the leadership election. James issued a statement saying that she had decided not to become party leader, because "It has become clear that I do not have sufficient authority, nor the full support of all my MEP colleagues and party officers to implement changes I believe necessary and upon which I based my campaign." Upon signing the document that notified the Electoral Commission of her election as UKIP leader, James added the Latin term vi coactus (under duress) after her signature. The Commission was unable to process the document due to her use of the words.
She resigned her party membership on 21 November 2016, stating "it was time to move on" and that her relationship with UKIP had become "increasingly difficult", although she would continue to sit in the European Parliament as an Independent.
Following her resignation, the leadership of UKIP passed back to Nigel Farage who was selected as the interim Party leader; another leadership election was held in November, in which Paul Nuttall was elected as the new leader of UKIP.
On 8 April 2017, James stated she would consider standing for a seat in the British Parliament as a Conservative at the next general election. Ten days later Theresa May called a snap election, in which James did not stand.
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