New Ukip leader Henry Bolton has Nigel Farage's endorsement and members will be relieved Anne Marie Waters wasn't elected, according to a political commentator.
He promised to pressure the government into a hard Brexit.
UKIP is set to unveil its fourth leader in just over a year after a contest that has divided the party.
After the announcement, he told the party members: "Brexit is our core task, however, it is not the end of the line". A former soldier, Bolton is a one-time Lib Dem member who has worked as an European Union common defence strategist. He stood for the Liberal Democrats in the 2005 general election and spent time working as a common defence strategist for the European Union.
He added that UKIP will fight for "a nation that is proud to be called British". There is an issue to be discussed. He was endorsed by four UKIP MEPs, including Mike Hookem, who once called Islam a "killing machine".
Although he declared Islam a "concern" in a press conference after his acceptance speech, Mr Bolton also argued that the party needed to learn from the general election earlier this year, when it pushed an Islamophobic agenda and saw its vote collapse.
Spain warns Catalan leader against holding referendum
A vote to split could also encourage other areas to vote for independence from the European Union (EU), experts said. Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy insisted the vote wouldn't count anyhow. "Vote for the future of Catalonia ".
Bolton's victory was a shock to nearly all in attendance at the announcement in Torquay.
Ms Waters came second, with 21.3% of the 12,915 votes cast.
Reacting to the news, UKIP MEP David Coburn tweeted: "Congrats to Henry Bolton thank God the very bad @AMDWaters or ghastly @prwhittle didn't win".
Paul Nuttall's reign will be defined by disastrous election results for the party both nationally and at county council level, while his predecessor, Diane James, lasted just 18 days.
He has denied reports he will quit the party to set up a new movement if Ms Waters is elected.