LONDON - The leader of the insurgent right-wing UK Independence Party said on Monday he was stepping down after realizing his ambition to win a vote for Britain to leave the EU, the latest twist in a dramatic reshaping of the nation's politics.
The departure of brash former commodities trader Nigel Farage would sideline one of the most outspoken and effective anti-EU campaigners from the debate about how to sever Britain's ties with the other 27 countries in the bloc.
But it could also give his UKIP party - which under Britain's winner-takes-all election system won just one seat in Parliament last year despite capturing 12.6 percent of the vote - an opportunity to select a less-polarizing figure and take on the mainstream in a radically altered political environment.
The June 23 'Brexit' vote to leave the EU has thrown the two main political parties into disarray, with the ruling Conservatives seeking a replacement for Prime Minister David Cameron and lawmakers from the main opposition Labour Party voting to withdraw confidence in leader Jeremy Corbyn.
"I have never been, and I have never wanted to be, a career politician. My aim in being in politics was to get Britain out of the European Union," said Farage, who remains a UKIP member of the European Parliament.
"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."