LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) has elected a practicing Catholic as its new leader. Paul Nuttall, the Member of the European Parliament for Northwest England, acquired 62.6 percent of UKIP members' votes in the race for the leadership position.
Nuttall was the former leader of UKIP from September 2008 to November 2010 and leader of its delegation to the European Parliament. UKIP is well known for being the leading force behind Brexit, the national referendum that withdrew Britain from the European Union earlier this summer.
During Brexit, Nigel Farage was the leader of UKIP, but quickly resigned after the referendum's success. Since Farage's exit, the party has been thrown into chaos and turmoil, as the party is striving to reach new voters, and establish a post-Brexit identity.
Since the shocking success of Brexit, Farage has been at the center of English and U.S. politics, and has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential race, even going so far as to give a speech in support of Trump at one of his campaign rallies.
The turmoil inside UKIP has been clearly seen in the struggle over leadership of the party, which has already seen one leader quit. Diane James, elected UKIP leader in September, resigned after 18 days owing to intra-party divisions.
After James' resignation, Nigel Farage stepped in as interim leader while the second leadership race took place. Nuttall defeated former deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans and ex-soldier John Rees-Evans.
Evans came in second in the race, with 19.3 percent of the vote, with the remainder going to Rees-Evans. According to UKIP's figures, 32,757 ballots were sent to UKIP members, with 15,405 votes being cast in the leadership race.
In his acceptance speech, Nuttall remarked, "The country needs a strong UKIP more than ever before. If UKIP is to be an electoral force, there will be an impetus on Theresa May and her government to give us a real Brexit."
Nuttall is a practicing Catholic, and has even touted UKIP as a party in line with Catholic thought. Concerning UKIP's moral stances, he has said,
Twelve percent of Catholics have already indicated that they are going to vote, or have already voted, Ukip. On moral issues, we, more than any other political party, are more in line with Catholic thought. Whether it's on gender-choice abortion or same-sex marriage, we are absolutely 100 percent behind the Catholic Church."
In response to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales urging its parishioners to challenge political parties on their stances, in particular on immigration, he remarked, "We want to show them that we are a serious, credible political party that has a significant amount of support among Catholics."
Nuttall has also shown strong pro-life views during his political career.
For example, during a debate on banning alcohol advertising, he commented,
So let's get this right: We are going to ban alcohol adverts because apparently they encourage youngsters to act irresponsibly, but we allow adverts that promote abortion, which also encourages people not to take responsibility for their actions. Do you get where I am going on this one? Rank hypocrisy.