By James Haddow
It’s over, UKIP’s dead. It lives on under a new name, the Conservative Party.
With their one goal achieved, the party’s obsolete. Their main man, their icon, Farage, out of the picture.
Following their crushing by-election defeat in Stoke for their party leader, Conservative defector, Paul Nuttall it’s hard to argue that UKIP will win a single seat at the next election. Stoke was labelled the capital of Brexit. If UKIP can’t win here, where can they?
Theresa May and the Tories however will reap the rewards of lurching to the right to counter the UKIP effect. The Tories are polling at a colossal 40%, having scooped up UKIP voters now that May is promising hard Brexit.
UKIP at it’s core was always The Conservatives 2.0, right wing libertarians, others anti-immigration national conservatives, Tories in exile.
But hey, Ukip shouldn’t mourn. It helped create EU referendum in concert with Tory backbenchers, and its sole purpose was achieved, a remarkable feat for a party which garnered a mere 3% of votes in the 2010 General Election.
The Conservative party has been Ukip-ised. Following his life work being achieved, Farage crowed that his party had “changed the centre of gravity of British politics. Virtually everything she said in that speech are things that I’ve said to the Ukip conference over the course of the last five or six years”. He has every right to brag. A party that has just a single Member of Parliament, Douglas Carswell, another Conservative defector, has effectively captured the commanding heights of the Tory party. The Tories are UKIP in disguise.
We now have a Conservative government pursuing a harsh and chaotic Brexit; demonising its critics as unpatriotic internal enemies; pursuing inflammatory anti-immigration ruses, such as floating the idea of drawing up lists of foreign workers; and pledging to expand selection in schools. All UKIP policies.
UKIP will probably live on as the eternal protest vote by right-wingers against the Tories, a reason why May is so keen to insist that she’s getting on with Brexit. Labour, who are in chaos following a devastating loss in Copeland, thought UKIP would split the right, it ended up shattering themselves. It was Labour that fractured most lethally: in the direction of the SNP, Greens and Ukip.
Nuttall will claim that by halving Labour’s majority, UKIP have a future. They do have a future. As a party called the Conservatives, their Brexit legacy will live on for decades to come.