Nigel Farage admits Ukip may only last two more years after party wiped out on Kent County Council
PUBLISHED: 15:16 08 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:48 08 May 2017
The former Ukip leader said you could question the party’s future if Theresa May delivers “the kind of Brexit that voters wanted”
Nigel Farage has admitted Ukip may only last another two years if Theresa May delivers “the kind of Brexit that voters wanted”.
Questions were again raised over the party’s future post-Brexit as its representation on Kent County Council was completely wiped out last week.
After winning 17 seats in 2013 and becoming the main party of opposition to the Conservatives, Ukip failed to win a single seat at County Hall when the results were announced last Friday, only claiming one single victory nationwide.
Former MP Douglas Carswell, who defected from the party earlier this year, said Mr Farage was to blame for Ukip’s collapse, having put voters off with “angry outbursts” over immigrants.
Writing in The Mail On Sunday, Mr Carswell highlighted Mark Reckless’ victory in Rochester and Strood under a purple banner in 2014 as a highpoint for Ukip, but that the party had been set back by its former leader’s outspoken comments ever since.
“Ukip alone offered the chance of change. But we blew it,” he said.
“We won almost 60 per cent of the vote in Clacton by talking about GPs, not just immigration. In Rochester, we won by reaching out beyond our base.
“But rather than learn from that, Nigel Farage reverted to type.
“On the day we triumphed in Clacton, the then Ukip leader majored on migrants with HIV.
“Then he managed to end up in an argument about mothers breastfeeding in public, before making rude noises about Romanians.
“Why? Far from having a strategy, we seemed to be driven by whatever came out of Nigel’s mouth.”
Responding this week, Mr Farage, who has lived in Westerham, and only recently ruled himself out of standing again as a parliamentary candidate in South Thanet next month, admitted his party’s future may be in the balance if the prime minister achieves a clean Brexit.
He said: “If, in two-and-a-half years’ time, Mrs May has delivered the kind of Brexit that voters wanted, then I think you could ask the question ‘what is Ukip’s future, where does it go from here?’.
“It all looks and sounds fantastic but, as I say, we have got a career politician here whose record of delivery in the past has been very poor, so let’s see.”
He dismissed Mr Carswell as a “rather untrustworthy figure, which is why the Conservatives wouldn’t have him back at the election”.
However, Chris Wells, leader of the party’s only council in the country in Thanet, said he didn’t trust the prime minister to deliver by 2019 and insisted Ukip still had a role in putting pressure on the government, despite a disastrous election last week, in which he was beaten in the Cliftonville seat by both the Conservatives’ Lesley Game and ex-Iraqi refugee Aram Rawf, who was standing for Labour.
“It’s frustrating because I was out on the streets and there was no animosity or anger towards us as a party,” Cllr Wells told Kent News.
“I don’t think it’s understandable [that questions remain over Ukip’s purpose] but people believe what others say about Ukip, so we need to make it clear what we need to do.
“Theresa May will foul up Brexit in the next two years because she never wanted to do it in the first place.
“She behaves as if she’s Margaret Thatcher in a Rule Brittania costume when it was not her view - any rational person will tell you it’s not going to happen and that’s why Ukip is needed.”
Mr Rawf, who won more than 300 votes than Cllr Wells last week, said: “It was considered an unwinnable seat for the Labour Party, but I put my heart into the campaign and I’m proud to have knocked Ukip into third place.
“I feel I have helped wiped this party off the Kent County Council political map.”
Cllr Wells previously held office as a Conservative county councillor but despite failing to win back a seat as a Ukip candidate last week, he insisted he had no regrets.
“There’s frustration of course but I don’t regret the decision [to move to Ukip], I’ve certainly had more fortune and fun in these last two years as leader of our council.
“I’ve now got two years to prove it can work again, that’s the real test for me.”
Conservative candidate for Thanet North Sir Roger Gale last week accused Cllr Wells of making a last ditch attempt to win over voters as news broke of a fresh investor looking to get planes flying again at Manston airport - a hot topic among the district’s electorate - just 24 hours before voters went to the polls.
Cllr Wells said in response he had no influence over the timing of the announcement.