He had "a duty" to sort the party out after its Autumn "disarray"by Alex Dean / February 9, 2017 / Leave a comment
“One of two things had to happen to ensure Ukip survived, either Nigel Farage had to come back as leader, or I had to step in. He wasn’t going to come back, so therefore I had a duty to sort it out.”
Paul Nuttall is leader of Ukip and also its candidate for the Stoke-on-Trent by-election, which takes place on 23rd February.
When I asked him what a loss would mean for his leadership of the party, and whether he would resign, he said: “Of course it would be a dent,” but gathered himself: “It wouldn’t be terminal… Stoke was not even in our top 50 target seats, so I’ve really taken a punt on this one.”
In the EU referendum, 69 per cent of voters in Stoke-on-Trent Central voted “Leave”—the highest level of any UK city. In the wake of Labour MP Tristram Hunt’s resignation, Nuttall hopes for another “vote for change. And let’s not forget, this has been labelled the capital of Brexit.”
Nuttall is a charismatic politician with an eye-catching dress sense. Labour’s dreadful performance in the national polls under Jeremy Corbyn, explains why Nuttall thinks Stoke could help Ukip “replace the Labour Party as the patriotic voice of working class people.”
A few months ago, the prospect of Ukip mounting a serious challenge anywhere seemed far off. Towards the end of 2016, Nuttall’s party descended into chaos. When Britain voted “Leave,” Ukip faced a problem—its defining political purpose had been fulfilled. This was shortly followed by the resignation of Nigel Farage. The party then went through three leaders in as many months, with one, Diane James, lasting just 19 days in the post. On top of this, two Ukip MEPs had a fist-fight during a party meeting at the European Parliament, with one of them winding up in hospital.
While Nuttall conceded that Ukip was “viewed as being in disarray in the autumn,” he said that after a month and a half in charge, he has now “steadied the ship,” achieving unity through having “appointed people with big roles within the party from all wings.”
The controversy has not gone away, however. Over recent days, it has become clear that Nuttall named his “permanent address” as a house in Stoke on his nomination form for the by-election, despite not living in the property at…