Since Ukip was co-founded by Farage in 1993 its has grown into Britain’s third biggest party by the number of votes cast at last year’s general election.
He defended James’s decision to quit the role suggesting that family health problems and a recognition that your private life is “finished” when you become party leader might have been influencing factors.
Speaking about the importance of having a Christian lead the party, he added: “If [the new leader] is somebody who is a genuine, believing Christian, then that would be absolutely fantastic”.
Party officials were unable immediately to say who was leading the party.
He told BBC news he found it unlikely Mr Farage could become leader but added that he would want to be “supportive” and that it was “not impoossible”.
Asked if he would take 20 million dollars, he said: “No I’m not coming back, I’m retired”.
Nigel Farage’s successor has resigned after two and a half weeks in the job, a senior party source confirmed.
Bookmakers named the duo among the favourites to replace James, with Ladbrokes listing odds of 10/1 for Farage and 1/2 for Woolfe.
Suzanne Evans, the former deputy chair who clashed with Farage, could also try again after she missed out because she was suspended at the time of the last contest.
Douglas Carswell, the party’s sole member of parliament, posted the following tweet shortly after speculation began to break regarding James’ departure on social media.
It is understood that Mr Oakden was not informed in advance of Ms James’s intention to quit, and received formal confirmation only when she released a statement on Twitter.
Speaking from Strasbourg, Etheridge said: “That’s rather a peculiar statement that she’s made because, as far as I’m aware, being out here in MEP’s meetings and mixing with colleagues”.
But the leadership campaign had exposed deep divisions between party members supporting Farage, including James, and those opposed to him.
Speaking following the decision in August, Woolfe said he was “extremely disappointed” and branded Ukip’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) “not fit for purpose”.
“We offer our support, thanks and best wishes to Diane as she returns to focusing on her vital role as a hard working UKIP MEP for the South East”.
James came to prominence after nearly winning 2013’s Eastleigh by-election, receiving 27.8% of the vote, putting the Tory party’s Maria Hutchings into an embarrassing third place.