The news that the party has lost the only council it controlled, is one of the final nails in the coffin for Britain’s one-time third-party.
The party’s rise to the top is an incredible story in British politics. It went from being an outsider, to one that had considerable influence on the country’s politics, an impressive feat considering the party lacked a significant parliamentary presence. With the threat of UKIP hot his heels, David Cameron gave in to putting an in/out referendum on EU membership in the party’s 2015 manifesto. UKIP came from nowhere to win almost 13% in the vote that year, riding on a wave of success from the defections of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless.
Ultimately, their success in terms of vote-share did not translate itself into seats at the election, but they replaced the Liberal Democrats as the country’s third party in terms of votes and ensured that a vote on EU membership took place, which led a vote for Brexit – and ultimately the party’s downfall.
For UKIP, Brexit has two sides. On one hand, the party have achieved their core aim. Very few parties can say that they have done that. Of course, many parties like the Conservatives and Labour are not – at their core – one issue parties like UKIP, but that fact that the UK is on its way to leaving the EU shows UKIP’s tremendous success.
On the other hand, when voters switched away from UKIP in the recent election, they must have surely been asking the question, “with Brexit now happening, what is the point in this party?” Theresa May’s election may have backfired for her, but the Conservative did increase its share of the vote, scooping up many former UKIP voters with the fact that they full embraced Brexit.
The 2017 local elections hinted at the death of UKIP, and the general election further added to the notion, and now, the fact the party has lost control of its only council writes another one of the final lines on the last page of UKIP’s.
That all said, politics is a funny thing. Even a couple of months ago, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour looked completely dead, but the new election gave them a golden opportunity. Look at them now.
And consider the last time the Conservatives were in opposition. The party looked weak and divided against Tony Blair, but they eventually returned to government.
If Brexit is not as “hard” as many Leavers would like, then UKIP could come back from the dead.