Former soldier and police officer Henry Bolton has been elected UKIP leader – the party’s fourth in just over a year.
Mr Bolton, who saw off challenges from better-known contenders, told UKIP members: “Brexit is our core task. However it is not the end of the line.”
Controversial anti-Islam candidate Anne Marie Waters finished second. Some MEPs had threatened to quit if she won.
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was delighted and praised Mr Bolton as “a man of real substance”.
The party’s leadership has been in flux since Mr Farage quit, following the 2016 referendum which saw the UK vote to leave the EU – the issue for which UKIP had long campaigned.
Mr Bolton’s win came as a surprise to some as Sharia Watch founder Ms Waters had been the bookies’ favourite and London Assembly member Peter Whittle was considered a front runner. In the end, Mr Bolton won with 30% of the 12,915 votes cast, Ms Waters got 21% and Mr Whittle came in fifth with 11% in a seven-way contest.
The 54-year-old former soldier, who also served with Thames Valley police and has worked for the UN, stood for UKIP as police and crime commissioner in Kent in 2016, coming second. In 2005, he was a parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems.
Speaking at the UKIP conference in Torquay, Mr Bolton urged party members to “rally around the party”, saying: “Without being united, we cannot lead.”
“We can’t lead the nation and we can’t hold the government to account and we can’t achieve our core purpose at all,” he said.
He promised to reorganise the party to increase its effectiveness and said he wanted to project UKIP “firmly and decisively into British politics for the good of the nation”.
UKIP leadership results
- Winner: Henry Bolton, 3,874 votes (29.9%)
- Anne Marie Waters, 2,755 votes (21.3%)
- David Kurten, 2,201 votes (17%)
- John Rees-Evans, 2,021 votes (15.6%)
- Peter Whittle, 1,413 votes, (10.9%)
- Jane Collins, 566 votes, 4.4%
- Aidan Powlesland, 85 votes, 0.65%
Controversy about Ms Waters’s candidacy had prompted threats from some MEPs that they would leave the party if she won. BBC political correspondent Ben Wright said Mr Bolton would be seen as the continuity candidate.
UKIP also unveiled a new logo at its conference, replacing its well-known purple pound sign, with a lion – which some, including Gary Lineker, suggested bore a resemblance to that of the Premier League.
Party chairman Paul Oakden told the BBC’s Daily Politics he was not worried the similarities might lead to legal issues: “We did our due diligence before we put these logos to the membership and as I said, we are perfectly comfortable.”
Former party leader Paul Nuttall quit after the general election, which saw UKIP’s vote share shrink to 1.8% from 12.6% in 2015 – the year before the UK voted to leave the European Union.
His predecessor Diane James, who replaced Nigel Farage, lasted just 18 days in the job, saying she did not have enough authority in the party. Mr Farage returned for a spell as interim leader.