I and many others in UKIP over many years were smeared and villified by Nigel Farage but without him we would never have got an In/Out Referendum. That was his great achivement and I thank him from the bottom of my heart. To get us out of the EU in my lifetime was my sole ambition and the sole reason that I and many others joined UKIP. Nigel Farage steadily increased UKIP's media profile and put such electoral pressure on Cameron that he had to include the offer in the Tories 2015 manifesto.
Farage has always been lucky electorally as UKIP leader. The expenses scandal of Feb 2010 engulfed all of the three main political parties enabling UKIP to go from 13 seats in 2009 to 24 seats in 2014 when UKIP became the biggest UK party by share of the vote in the European parliament. His second slice of luck was the collapse of the LibDems in the 2015 General Election leaving Cameron with an overall majority and hence he had to honour his pledge to hold an in out EU referendum. Cameron had been counting on another LibCon coalition when he could ditch his referendum promise because it was a LIbDem red line so Dave was hoist on his own petard as the Lib Dems had been in 2010 on the no increase in student fees public pledge which when they found themselves in government they could not deliver.
Being lucky as Napoleon noted is the prime requirement for a leader and Farage ticked that box..
The job is not yet done and I expect the establishment will try and reverse the Referendum OUT decision. Resisting that is a job for others. The Referendum was won however not by Farage by others, Dan Hanaan, Gisela Stuart, Andrea Leadsom, BoJo, Gove etc but no Nigel no Referendum.
UKIP will go on but at the top it is stuffed with Farage placemen which will make it difficult for the new leader. I also suspect UKIP is bankrupt. Nigel was always liberal with party money. His 7 MP election failures did not come cheap. The referendum result redeems Nigel and ensures him a seat on the red leather. His timing is excellent. He knows he is toxic to many people but by going he takes himself out of the easy Europhile targets. As Richard Nixon said when standing down they will have to find a new guy to kick. Well done Nigel!