Nuttall has six weeks to prove himself as Ukip leader, says Farage

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall has got six weeks to prove himself in the party's top job, Nigel Farage has said.

The MEP insisted he would "work closely" with and "support fully" the man who holds his old job but said the general election would be a verdict on his leadership.

Mr Farage said he still had not decided whether to run again for a Westminster seat but insisted he would win if he put himself forward.

"I think I would, yes," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Mr Nuttall has faced criticism over his leadership in the face of damaging internal battles in the Eurosceptic party and his own disastrous by-election bid in Stoke-on-Trent.

"He's got six weeks to prove himself, hasn't he? It's just as simple as that," Mr Farage said.

The MEP said he would decide in the next couple of days whether he would stand in the election on June 8.

He said: “I haven’t decided yet. I have got to weigh it up.

“I’m still leading a group in the European Parliament where, of course, ultimately there will be a veto over the whole Brexit deal and where the negotiations will take place over the next two years and I’ve got to weigh up where am I best to be in terms of having an impact on Brexit and perhaps warning the British public that it’s not going in the direction it should be.”

Mr Farage suggested he lost in South Thanet in 2015 “perhaps in circumstances that weren’t entirely fair but we’ll let the Crown Prosecution Service decide about that” following claims about breaches of election spending limits.

The former leader insisted voters should back Ukip to ensure there was a “strong” voice holding Theresa May to account.

“This Prime Minister gives fabulous speeches,” he said. “She uses words and phrases that I have been using and have been condemned for 20 years.

“It all sounds wonderful. When she was home secretary, remember, she was going to reduce immigration. Did she? Not a bit of it.”

Peter Byrne/PA Wire