I realise this is a very delicate subject and must stress that I do not speak officially for UKIP, but the election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, and his public insistence on leaving the EU on 31st October might have major repercussions for all pro-Brexit parties, including our own.
Scenario 1: If Boris succeeds and we leave as planned, I predict Nigel Farage will step down as Leader of The Brexit Party within days. He will think: “Job done. I’m off.” (He’s done it before… to us). The Brexit Party will likely drift apart, leaving UKIP as the sole supporter of a libertarian approach to politics.
Scenario 2: If Boris is scuppered by “Remain” MPs in Westminster, he’ll be forced into a snap election, presenting us with a huge dilemma and everyone needs to start thinking seriously about it. Will UKIP or The Brexit Party (TBP) stand against him in that general election, thus wrecking any chance of getting out of the EU, handing victory to Jeremy Corbyn by default?
That will obviously be up to the next leader and the NEC. But The Brexit Party faces the same dilemma. They must ask themselves: “Do we stand against Boris, and hand victory to the ‘Remain’ Socialists of Labour?” Ignore all TBP publicity about preparing for a general election with 650 candidates… that’s just political gameplay, keeping up the pressure on Boris. When the crunch comes, Nigel Farage, alone, will decide for them.
There’s another dimension to this. Support for The Brexit Party is already ebbing away to the Tories now that Boris is in full tub-thumping mode, announcing: “Brexit by Halloween!”. A recent YouGov poll in The Times shows Tory support climbing, with TBP falling back to 17%. But as I write this, it’s just dropped to 14% (Sunday Times 28/7/19). Unless they’re just rogue results (and I don’t think they are), it looks like many “supporters” of TBP are already heading back to Boris.
My point is twofold. UKIP has a great future post-Brexit, but the reasons are unconnected with “simply leaving the EU” (The Brexit Party has taken that ground… and if you disagree, look at the recent European elections where they got 29 MEPs, and we got none).
The other point we need to consider seriously is our approach to a snap general election. Do we restrict ourselves to fighting only in seats held by Lib Dems (or only by Labour), or do we fight everywhere, in every seat across the country, spreading the butter so thinly across the toast that it becomes invisible, and risk losing Brexit and crowning Corbyn as Prime Minister?
British politics might have been dull in the past, but no longer. This is Game of Thrones without the gore (though the body-count of party leaders is certainly beginning to mount).