MPs may be taking a much-needed Easter break from the Brexit squabbling, but it looks like we are about to witness the beginnings of a resurrection that will change the political landscape.
Rather than us watch the European Parliament elections from afar, candidates in the UK are busy completing their nomination papers thanks to Theresa May’s inability to honour her word about leaving on 29 March. and she looks on course for a further humiliation from Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party.
Farage will be criticised for enjoying the limelight, but this was not his plan. Through their failure to deliver on the EU referendum result the mainstream parties at Westminster have made his resurrection possible – and it is the Government which will pay the highest price.
On the morning of 24 June 2016 and with the voters supporting its objective, it looked likely that UKIP would stand down. Job done, Farage was able to take his leave and await the Government delivering on the result.
Instead, Britain is facing the prospect of an unplanned EU election campaign and Farage has returned to the fray, determined once again to force the government’s hand. Thus far, polling shows the public is rallying behind him. The first serious professional polling conducted before his party was even launched showed the Brexit Party in double figures – already ahead of UKIP. Now the latest polling from YouGov shows the Brexit Party (27%) ahead of all parties, with Labour behind on 22% and the Conservatives trailing on 15%.
Farage, pictured, has seized the moment by doing two things. Firstly, as is being recognised by many of his previous critics, he has detoxified the Brexit brand by assembling a multicultural kaleidoscope of supporters from a variety of races, religions, colour and gender.
Secondly, by abandoning the adherence to past conventions and values Farage has shifted the focus from issues such as immigration to turn the Brexit Party into a voice representing voters’ legitimate grievances. So long as it can maintain that position and speak up for those who feel denied it has every opportunity to lay waste to the Conservative Party.
Yes, there will be collateral damage to the Labour Party, but it is not the main culprit in the failure of the Brexit negotiations. Oppositions oppose and that is what Labour was expected to do. Same with the SNP.
The Conservative Prime Minister’s sheer duplicity in playing against her own Cabinet, and her Hydra-headedness in saying one thing to EU leaders and another to her backbenchers has brought her into disrepute, causing open rebellion.
Farage is now feeding off a Tory Party so utterly incompetent it is even fielding remain-supporting MEPs for re-election and faces falling into single figures.
An expected poor display at the English Council elections on 2 May will prompt a denouement in the EU elections – if they take place – as May’s Tory Party is squeezed between Farage’s Brexiteers and Remainers voting for everyone else (Labour, SNP, Lib Dems, Greens and Change UK). The notion that the Tory party can survive on a message of “Let us finish the job” or “one more shove and we’re over the line” – after nearly three years of amateurism and chaos – is frankly risible.
For Farage and his supporters, the hope is that the revolution he leads will result in another change, this time in Downing Street and the successful withdrawal of Britain from Europe, after which he can properly retire.