John Harris

Journalist & Author

Farage is gone, but the people he spoke for can’t be ignored

Though the party appears to be in crisis, this is no time for complacency. The issues that fuelled Ukip’s rise still blight communities across Britain

It seemed to have the same effect as those dreaded occasions when rock bands break a run of crowd-pleasers and tell a festival audience they’re about to play a new song. Still, the moment at which Donald Trump introduced 15,000 people in Jackson, Mississippi to that renowned Deep Southern hero Nigel Farage at least crystallised two things: the fact that Brexit and Trumpism are two sides of the same populist coin; and the awful, brazen cynicism that Farage and The Donald have in common. There they stood, with matching suntans, the Manhattan plutocrat and the former City commodities trader, as the latter announced that what he had achieved was “for the little people, for the real people”.

Meanwhile, 4,000 or so miles away, Ukip is tanking in some opinion polls, and facing a leadership election that does not exactly suggest a force in the best political health. As often seems to happen when the party gets a sniff of influence, factional strife has reached boiling point, and the handful of people who might have made a reasonable fist of succeeding Farage are nowhere to be seen.

Ukip’s whole schtick has always been to insist that some things matter more than economics

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