Sunday, 20 January 2013

UKIP -Back to Obscurity

In 1987 The Sun newspaper ran a story under the title "Nightmare under Kinnock" telling what a disaster a Labour government would be to the country. In 1997 the nightmare started on a slow burn and the Labour Government sleep walked the country into financial oblivion. In this final part of a series of blogs the nightmare under a UKIP Government predictably unravels and self destructs.

The referendum campaign was now seriously derailing. "Keep UK In" campaign was plain and simple, vote to stay in the EU and negotiate from the inside. The "out" campaign was less organised. Factions started to appear even before the referendum question was published. Nigel Farage, the Prime Minister, made the Government position clear that he would be supporting an exit from EU and start negotiations for a unilateral trade agreement. His front bench publicly held the party line but it was clear that not all were convinced the EU would just roll over and let the UK negotiate without joining EFTA. The backbenchers were far more vocal insisting on a clear statement that the UK would lead talks to quickly form a Commonwealth Free Trade Agreement and others wanting EFTA membership. Farage moved quickly in an attempt to bring party unity and announced continued talks to bring about a Commonwealth Free Trade Agreement which the UK would play a 'key role' avoiding any suggestion the UK would lead the talks given India's dominance. He attempted further placation by prematurely announcing UK's membership of EFTA as an interim measure prior to CFTA membership. This was quickly thwarted by EFTA themselves. Lichtenstein in particular were concerned that the Vaduz Convention allowed free movement of people across member states. This could potentially mean the UK, with its population of 60million, would swamp smaller countries pointing out the combined population of all EFTA countries is only a third of the UK. With EFTA now ruled out and the EU now making it clear that any trade negotiation would only be with the UK as an EFTA member the options were closing. With the referendum looming Nigel Farage, upbeat as ever, had to campaign on the basis that we would exit from the EU and go it alone with no agreements laid down. Britain, initially at least, would be laid bare to tariffs and EU states protecting their own industries against British exports. This was denied by UKIP, now moving their position from "They need us more than we need them" to one of "Their bluffing, let's call their bluff". The referendum went ahead as planned, as laid out in statute. Just as the UKIP government wanted the question was a simple in/out. The campaign had split the "out campaigners" into a number of factions. The official government line was now confused with exit from the EU clear but with a very uncertain prognosis. The referendum result produced a narrow but clear victory for the "In" campaign. The Government accepted the decision of the electorate but was under considerable and very vocal pressure from the backbenchers. Their argument was that the UKIP General Election manifesto clearly had exit from the EU as its core policy. However, with their energies and focus on the referendum the economy was showing signs of faltering and with their inexperienced ministers and MP's the infighting quickly became unsustainable. Using the failure to win public support on a key manifesto pledge Nigel Farage went the Palace to resign as Prime Minister and requested the Queen dissolve Parliament. The General Election took place and Nigel Farage became the newest Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham.

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