Will the ex-UKIP leader return to lead his party (again)?
Following the revelation that new UKIP leader Henry Bolton’s now ex-girlfriend, Jo Marney, a model and UKIP activist, had allegedly sent racist texts about actress Meghan Markle and the Royal Family, there have been calls for him to step aside, as reported by the BBC.
So far, he has refused to budge. On one hand, Bolton’s association with such comments has done the party no favours due to past accusations of racism. The argument follows that he should therefore step down for the sake of the party. On the other hand, he has split from Marney and was not the one to make the reported comments.
Putting the question of should Bolton quit to one side raises the question: what would happen if Bolton quits?
The last UKIP contest was a competitive one, with Bolton beating a range of candidates to become UKIP leader with just 29.9% of the overall vote. The hypothetical vacancy would have given anti-Islam Anne-Marie Waters a chance to become the party’s leader (she came second last time with 21.3% of the vote) had she not left the party to form her own group.
Both UKIP London AMs also stood as did Jane Collins MEP, John Rees-Evans and Aidan Powlesland. Like Waters, Rees-Evans has also gone on to form his own party. Bolton was a surprise winner, but there is no obvious replacement candidate.
However, it is possible that Nigel Farage could return.
The party is clearly having a crisis. Theresa May’s "Brexit means Brexit strategy" and Paul Nuttall’s 2017 leadership culminated in an embarrassing result for the party in June’s snap election. Furthermore, with no obvious successor and the strong possibility of a Brexit deal that UKIP are not happy presents an opportunity for Farage.
Farage’s return would cement the idea that the party really are a one-man-band, but if the other players are no good, who’s to say that would be a bad thing for the party?
Nigel Farage could feel the need to return to “save” UKIP, but the question remains: would he?