Britain’s Independence Party leader resigns

Gregory Katz
Associated Press

London — Britain’s Conservative prime minister is stepping down. The Labour Party leader is barely clinging to power. And now the head of the U.K. Independence Party, a key architect of the dramatic vote to leave the European Union, has resigned as well.

It has left the country with a power vacuum just as someone needs to step up and own the talks on how Britain will exit the EU.

The June 23 referendum results have ripped through British politics like a buzz saw, and it will likely be weeks before some clarity emerges.

The new Conservative Party leader will be chosen Sept. 9 and will become prime minister. The contenders are talking in general terms about “Brexit” plans, but their words aren’t yet backed by any authority.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Monday he is leaving his party post because he wants his life back after years of political intrigue. But observers note he’s keeping his seat in the European Parliament and may well be hoping for a formal role when the new prime minister takes power and, most likely, starts Brexit talks with EU leaders.

“There’s always a chance of him returning, but his future relies on other people supporting him and asking him to do something,” said George Jones, government professor emeritus at the London School of Economics.

On top of Prime Minister David Cameron’s and Farage’s departures, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is clinging to office despite having lost a confidence vote by his party’s lawmakers.

Jones said Britain is gripped by a power vacuum at the top.

“There isn’t any leadership, there can’t be, but in an emergency Cameron can take decisions,” he said. “It’s a strange situation. All the parties are in disarray. The unexpected has happened. It’s first of all necessary to set up a government that can act, and there’s a timetable set for that.”