If You Think Ukip Will Die After the Referendum, You Don't Understand Ukip

To think Ukip will disappear after the referendum is to fundamentally misunderstand the appeal of Ukip. What unites the party and attracts millions of voters is not only a hatred of the EU, but a fierce, relentless, and at times blinkered, patriotism.
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There are many in politics who believe that whatever the result of the European Union referendum, it will spell the end of Ukip.

If the UK votes to leave? Job done, go home.

If the UK votes to remain? Well, Farage et al gave it their best shot but the people have spoken and the issue is settled.

Either way, Ukip is over, right? If people do think that, they haven't been paying attention.

Say the UK does back Brexit. We would then have a period of two years where the Government has to detangle the UK from the tentacles of Brussels. You can bet that Farage will be popping up on a daily basis to put pressure on whoever happens to be the Prime Minister over every part of the divorce proceedings.

Leaving the EU does not in of itself guarantee the end of freedom of movement. Brussels may insist it remains as a part of a deal to access the single market. Can you imagine the anger of millions of voters if the UK leaves the EU but does not end freedom of movement? Ukip, and Farage, will be around to repeatedly make this case.

Even when a trade settlement with the EU is finalised, there are all those deals the UK will have to negotiate with other countries. Ukip will want to have its voice heard - and citing the 3.8million votes it received in last year's General Election - will claim it has a mandate to lobby on such matters. One of the party's key justifications for leaving the EU is it would allow the UK to reengage with the Commonwealth, and you can expect Farage and others to be calling for deals with those countries to take priority.

So a Leave vote does not mean Ukip will retire to its final resting place and wait for someone to read it the last rites.

Equally, if the UK votes to Remain in the EU, this will not kill off the party either. If the result is close, expect to hear much bellowing that it was an unfair fight, the pro-establishment media happily danced along to David Cameron's tune and people were deceived. Many in the party will hoping that a narrow defeat might actually inspire an SNP-style backlash from voters, and dozens of Ukip MPs will be propelled to Westminster.

This is unlikely, however. Unlike the Scottish Independence referendum, there is not a General Election a mere eight months later. Ukip will have to wait four years before putting itself to the country en masse, and any sense of we-wuz-robbed among the general public will have faded by then.

But a Remain vote won't kill off Ukip because - like the SNP - it means the party has still not achieved its primary objective. Are Nigel Farage, Douglas Carswell, Paul Nuttall, Suzanne Evans, Patrick O'Flynn all going to walk away from the fight because they lost the referendum? No. They are going to carry on attacking the European Union project as it is what has got them out of bed for pretty much every day of their political lives.

Remain or Leave - there is still a role for Ukip on the political stage.

It is true that funding may become difficult for the party, as many donors bankrolling Ukip have done so in pursuit of the ultimate prize of Brexit. Once this goal is either delivered or missed, chequebooks may disappear back into pockets.

But even without million pound donations, Ukip has hundreds of councillors, 22 MEPS, three members of the House of Lords and still, for now, an MP.

After the local elections on 5 May - seven weeks before the referendum - the party could have as many as nine members of the Welsh Assembly and even representation on the Greater London Assembly.

Will these people all down tools on 24 June if the referendum is lost? No.

But more important than this, to think Ukip will disappear after the Referendum is to fundamentally misunderstand the appeal of Ukip.

What unites the party and attracts millions of voters is not only a hatred of the EU, but a fierce, relentless, and at times blinkered, patriotism.

It is a sense that through cultural compromises the UK has lost its direction and character.

It is a sense that the feelings and rights of minority groups are given greater respect and adherence than the ethnic majority in the country.

It is a sense that no one really asked people in market towns up and down the UK whether they wanted an influx of migrants to their area.

These feelings will not disappear the day after the referendum, whatever the result, and consequently, neither will Ukip.


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