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On Sunday morning the new UKIP leader Diane James, was asked by the BBC's Andrew Neil about her political heroes. She struggled to think of anyone living, other than Vladimir Putin.

In her first apperance on Sunday Politics as leader of the party, James was asked the name her heroes in politics (other than Vladimir Putin). Neil's question was in reference to a previous statement made in 2015 by James when she was UKIP's justice spokesperson, that the president of the Russian Federation was someone she admired.

James, at first, struggled to name anyone, saying:

Well certainly not Trump, certainly not Clinton

Prompted further by Neil to name someone who she does think of in those terms, James said:

I can't think of anybody at the moment, apart from Mrs Thatcher maybe, and Winston Churchill

Her choices include first female prime minister and Conservative Margaret Thatcher (only a 'maybe'), the wartime coaliton leader and Conservative prime minister Winston Churchill, and the very much alive and nationalist president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.

Neil sought to confirm:

So Putin, Churchill and Thatcher?

James nodded and smiled.

The clip has since been shared widely on social media.

The response to this revelation has been, to put it diplomatically, mixed:

James' statement of admiration is not a new one.

In 2015, James suggested Putin had been 'provoked' into conflict with Ukraine by the European Union, and that she admired him as a nationalist for putting his country first.

The statement this Sunday came on the same day that Russians elect members of their lower house of the legislature (the State Duma). The elections are expected to return a majority for Putin's 'United Russia' party.

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