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Whatever happens now, Nigel Farage has already won | UK News

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The voting is over, the leaflets, the hustings, the campaigns, such as they were, have already ceased.

We won’t know the results of the European elections until Sunday but without a single vote being counted, without a single seat taken up by a Brexiter behind, Farage has already won.

For a start his electoral success has set the seal on Theresa May’s departure.

Despite repeated calamity, May seemed curiously inured from revolt, partly because Conservative poll numbers remained oddly robust.

So long as Conservative MPs felt reasonably safe in their seats, their indulgence of the beleaguered leader prevailed.

It was only when the party’s popularity plunged, vote-share gobbled by the voracious new Brexit Party, only when activists began to defect in droves, that the axe was finally swung.

Farage can, arguably, claim the scalp of a second Conservative prime minister in a row.

In this and in the intellectual shadow he has cast over the Tories, few can compare.

His influence is writ not just in who sits atop the Tory party but in all they say and do.

For when his opponents shrilly lambast his lack of manifesto they miss the point: he has no need for one.

He needs not detailed policies or spending plans, he just needs to exist; his ghost forever haunting the Tory feast, his pallid grinning visage at their shoulders.

He reminds them, should they depart from the will of the people, a will that, he apparently uniquely is able to divine, he will, as always, be there, ready to strike.

For Farage has one signature manoeuvre: he uses electoral vehicles, political parties of his creation as enormous electoral pressure groups on the Conservatives.

Theresa May and her husband Philip leave her local constituency polling station in Sonning, Berkshire
Image:
Theresa May and her husband Philip leave her local constituency polling station in Sonning, Berkshire

This campaign has proved that anything between a fifth and a third of the electorate are reliably at his command and most are Tory voters.

When people splutter “ah but he has the same number of voters with the Brexit Party as he did with UKIP” they again miss the point.

It is a crucial number, a block of votes with outsized importance to the Tory party, and thus an outsized importance on British politics.

The destruction of UKIP and their voters’ mass migration to Farage’s new outfit is, though a triumph, ironically a vindication of a critique against which he always rankled most: that UKIP was a one-man band.

Should a third revanchist force be necessary, they would likely follow him again.

And so the next leader of the Conservative Party will likely be in his image, chosen in an attempt to reunite the Tory family and centre-right vote.

They will doubtless advocate a no-deal, or “WTO” Brexit, and they will likely mimic the particular tone and sound of the brand of populism he has latterly developed.



Nigel Farage was covered in milkshake in Newcastle



Moment Nigel Farage hit with milkshake

Likewise too, if a second referendum does somehow come, it seems inconceivable to me that it could now not contain some no-deal option.

Once out of the question, Farage has successfully used these elections to cement it in the minds of many voters that it is the only authentic Brexit there is.

That is a failure of the entire political class, including those Brexiteers (of whom there are actually many) who believe a no-deal would be a disaster, not only for the country, but for the historical reputation of the project they’ve championed (and for that matter themselves).

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If that option were not somehow available, the legitimacy of that referendum would be nought and no new lasting settlement might be built.

The sum of these elections then is that Remainers must grapple with the prospect that a no-deal Brexit must be explicitly defeated and seen to be defeated at the ballot box, either through said referendum or a Conservative party committed to it against a Labour Party which is not.

The stakes have got even higher.

So a Conservative prime minister might resign today. But look not to Theresa May or her chequered legacy for much clue for the future of the Conservative Party, nor indeed to many of her would be successors.

Look instead to Farage, the most influential figure on the Conservatives since Margaret Thatcher herself.

:: Follow the results of the European elections live on Sky News and on the Sky News app as they are announced from 10pm on Sunday night

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