A prominent Lincolnshire UKIP councillor says she is ‘very tempted’ to enter the party’s national leadership race.
With current leader Nigel Farage declaring he will be stepping down, Victoria Ayling has indicated she could be the woman to take on the role.
“I am very tempted as I feel so passionately about getting our country back and going forward to a great future,” she told the paper.
Coun Ayling, who represents Spilsby Fen on the county authority and came second in the Police and Crime Commissioner election earlier this year, added UKIP colleagues had approached her to stand.
This comes after she headed the party’s National Executive Committee elections back in November.
“I have had a lot of pressure from members to put my hat in the ring to run for leadership, especially as I topped the vote in last year’s NEC elections,” she said.
“At this stage I want to see who else formally declares before making my own decision. We have some great talent within UKIP and some huge potential to be tapped and these are exciting times.”
Coun Ayling expects a new leader to be in place by the party’s annual conference in September which she says will act ‘almost as a launch for the leader’.
With speculation also mounting of a potential General Election later in the year following the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameran after the vote to leave the European Union, Coun Ayling says she would also look to stand for Parliament. And in doing so delivered a warning shot to MPs in the area – adding that she was a firm believer that it was best to stand in your local area.
Coun Ayling said she also believed any remain MP’s seat was ‘up for grabs’.
She said this would include Boston and Skegness, where current Conservative MP Matt Warman voted to remain while the majority of his constituents in Boston – 75.6 per cent voted to leave the EU, the highest percentage in the country.
In the 2015 General Election, Coun Ayling stood for UKIP in the Great Grimsby seat, but came third behind Labour and Conservative respectively.
In paying tribute to Mr Farage’s leadership, Coun Ayling also insisted UKIP was not a single policy party.
She added: “Nigel is an enigma with great charisma and tenacity. We need to ensure any leader builds on Nigel’s work making sure that we get out of the EU and get a good deal. UKIP as a party has a great range of policies to improve the lot of the majority of hard working people as well as the vulnerable and we need to build on our success.”
Current bookies favourite for the position is MEP Steven Woolfe, UKIP Frontbench spokesman on migration and financial affairs.