London (AFP) - Britain's anti-EU party UKIP will announce a new leader Monday to succeed Nigel Farage and seek to unite a party beset by infighting and division despite its Brexit victory.
Since his resignation following the EU referendum in June, Farage has ridden the wave of his campaign's success to the United States where he emerged as a keen ally of President-elect Donald Trump.
But his UK Independence Party has been reeling from internal crises, including high-profile resignations, claims of misappropriated EU funds and a fight between two of its European Parliament lawmakers.
Three candidates are now competing for the leadership -- former deputy leader Paul Nuttall, former deputy chairman Suzanne Evans and party activist John Rees-Evans -- with the winner to be announced on November 28 after a vote by party members.
Ballots for the contest close on Friday.
Nuttall, an MEP and firm favourite for the job, has pledged to "unite the party" if elected, demanding an end to "infighting and squabbling".
Evans, a former BBC radio reporter deemed his closest challenger, says the party must broaden its appeal to include women and minorities, in order to win seats in parliament.
Meanwhile the candidacy of businessman Rees-Evans, a former soldier, has been largely overshadowed by his calls to bring back the death penalty for paedophiles.
The leadership vote follows the resignation in October of Farage's successor Diane James after only 18 days in the job and her subsequent departure from the party on November 21.
She said her relationship with the party had become "increasingly difficult" and she had "no support within the executive".
The favourite to replace her, Steven Woolfe, quit in October following an altercation with a fellow MEP at the European Parliament that left him hospitalised -- a further embarrassment for UKIP.
- UKIP 'ungovernable'? -
"I have come to the conclusion that UKIP is ungovernable without Nigel Farage leading it and the referendum cause to unite it," Woolfe said in a statement published online.
Farage stepped into the breach as interim leader after James's resignation but ruled out returning longer-term, having achieved his life mission when Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23.
Despite holding no public office, the beer-drinking "man of the people" -- as he is often described -- became the first British politician to meet Trump following the Republican's election win, after joining him on the campaign trail.
Trump even recommended his anti-establishment ally as US ambassador, in a tweet that ruffled feathers in Downing Street, with British Prime Minister Theresa retorting that there was "no vacancy".
Swapping his usual pint of ale for champagne at a party at London's plush Ritz hotel this week, Farage revelled in the suggestion, holding up a tray of Ferrero Rocher chocolates in reference to the ambassador's reception in an often parodied television advert.
In a speech to guests posted on YouTube he said 2016 had been "the year of the big political revolution".
"When people look back in 100 years, 200 years, 2016 will stand out as one of those great historic years," he added.
Farage's exuberance cannot mask the turmoil engulfing his party, however.
Adding to the leadership fiasco, UKIP was accused this month of using EU funds to finance its Brexit campaign, in breach of party funding rules.
Britain's Electoral Commission has also said it will investigate possible breaches of UK election law.
The right-wing party has failed to capitalise on the success of the Brexit campaign, suffering a huge loss in financial support since the referendum, with chief donor Arron Banks voicing doubts about its future.
Donations totalled Â£42,943 ($53,432, 50,446 euros) between July 1 and September 30, a fall of 97 percent from Â£1,252,891 ($1,558,247, 1,471,672 euros) in the previous three months, quarterly Electoral Commission figures show.
UKIP emerged from the fringes of British politics after playing a key role in the push for a referendum on EU membership.
Advocating an anti-immigration agenda, the party scored the third-highest number of votes in the 2015 general election, taking 12.7 percent of the vote.
However, the party won only one constituency, making Douglas Carswell UKIP's only MP.
Whoever wins the leadership, getting more seats in parliament will be a key goal, along with seeking a swift exit from the EU.
"We're seeing hundreds of MPs trying to overturn the (referendum) verdict," said Evans, announcing her candidature.
"I want to say to them 'don't you dare'. I will be there breathing down their neck."