Paul Nuttall has said he is happy for to Ukip lose seats to the Conservative Party if it means Brexit happens.
Thursday’s local election results have been a disaster for Ukip, with the party having so far lost every seat it was defending.
With results still flowing in, it appears Theresa May has successfully reunited the right as former Ukip voters rush back to the Tories.
In a statement on Friday morning, Nuttall admitted it had been a “difficult night” as there was nothing the party could do “in the face of a big national swing to the Tories”.
Ukip’s leader conceded that May’s decision to declare rhetorical war on Brussels in her speech outside Downing Street on Wednesday had turned the heads of his supporters.
“Mrs May’s public dispute with the EU in recent days – which led to her speaking about standing up to Brussels in an eve-of-poll statement in Downing Street – was particularly fortuitously timed for the Conservatives,” he said.
Nuttall added: “If the price of Britain leaving the EU is a Tory advance after taking up this patriotic cause then it is a price Ukip is prepared to pay.”
In the wake of the party’s meltdown, new Ofcom guidelines which give broadcasters more flexibility in their election coverage could mean less airtime for Ukip.
Suzanne Evans, Ukip’s deputy chair, said Ukip were the “victims of our own success”.
“Brexit is something we have fought for long and hard and most sensible people recognise that if it weren’t for Ukip we would not be in the position we are now as a country, we would not have triggered article 50, we would not be heading out of the EU,” she told Sky News.
Neil Hamilton, the leader of Ukip in Wales, admitted this morning the election was “all about the collapse” of his party.
And Steven Woolfe, the independent MEP and former Ukip leadership candidate, said the results showed it was the “end of the significant influence”of the party.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live “darker forces” in Ukip that were pushing more right-wing policies was to blame. Asked if he would vote for Nuttall or Theresa May to be prime minister, he said: “I’ve got no choice – it would have to be Theresa May.”