Where terror goes, surely UKIP will follow. Today’s manifesto, launched by party leader Paul Nuttall, came from the first party to begin political campaigning after the Manchester attack earlier this week.
If Nuttall hopes that the timing might help UKIP regain some much-needed support on polling day, however, he may find himself disappointed. There is little in the manifesto, for instance, that will comfort those worried that UKIP faces a potentially fatal existential crisis after the triggering of Article 50. On the Today program this morning, John Humphrys asked Nuttall if the party was on “a bit of a suicide mission”.
Unfortunate phrasing aside, it is a question many will be asking. With their defining goal—bringing about the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union—all but realised, Nuttall and his party face an urgent need to re-invent themselves. (This has been apparent for some time; back in November, David Runciman wrote in these pages that the party had descended into a literal fist fight in the aftermath of its great referendum triumph.)
One section of their manifesto, entitled “Brexit Britain: the Key Tests”, conspicuously sets out to do just that. The manifesto announces that, until “each one of them has been met, we will not have the Brexit the British people voted for on 23rd June last year.” The key test, they say, is fishing rights, on which the Conservatives “already look to be backsliding.”