Diane James replaces Farage as head of Britain’s UKIP

Nigel Farage on Friday said UKIP had “changed the course of British history” with Brexit as he handed over leadership of the eurosceptic party, which faces an uncertain future without its charismatic chief.

Plainspoken Farage, one of the key faces of the campaign that secured Britain’s shock decision in June to leave the European Union, quit soon after the referendum saying his lifelong political ambition had been accomplished.

Diane James, an MEP, was announced as his replacement at the party’s annual conference in the seaside resort of Bournemouth where Farage used his farewell speech to hail the “fairytale” Brexit result.

“Without us there would have been no referendum, without you and the people’s army there would have been no ground campaign,” said Farage, who has campaigned for a British exit from the EU since the early 1990s.

“Together we have changed the course of British history,” he told a crowd of mostly elderly supporters waving Union Jack flags.

James, the party’s home affairs spokeswoman, said UKIP was a “winning machine” but warned the party had only won a “heat” in the race to leave the EU and the exit document was not yet signed.

“Until we get a signature, we’re still in, they still tell us what to do,” she told party members.