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'Brexit guard dog': Could a second referendum inspire a UKIP resurrection?

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'Brexit guard dog': Could a second referendum inspire a UKIP resurrection?
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REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
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As pressure builds on Prime Minister Theresa May to call a second referendum, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has hardened their stance that BREXIT means exit.

UKIP’s right wing manifesto, which was used by many Brexiters to jump-start the idea of leaving the European Union in the first place, includes paying no more money to the EU, no more EU laws imposed on UK citizens, no more jurisdiction over the UK by the European Court and no more open-border EU immigration.

A spokesperson for UKIP told Euronews their party acts as a “guard dog” for Brexit and added that a second referendum would damage the people’s faith in democracy and undermine the will of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

"Mrs May has achieved the impossible by uniting both Leavers and Remainers in condemnation of her 'deal',” UKIP told Euronews.

”UKIP supports leaving the EU at the earliest opportunity by repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and trading on WTO terms while shifting focus towards developing free trade deals with the rest of the world,” the spokesman said.

Charisma Void?

However, UKIP also believes that a second referendum could strengthen their already rising poll numbers. Some experts believe this is possible, but believe the Eurosceptic party is missing a popular politician to rally behind now since Nigel Farage jumped ship.

“UKIP has been attracting more support in opinion polls but has moved further to the right. It's greatest strength was its former leader Nigel Farage, but he has now left the party,” Dr Mark Garnett, Senior Lecturer in Politics at Lancaster University.

Dr Garnett went on to tell Euronews that without Farage, or a similar charismatic figure, UKIP is unlikely to make a significant breakthrough because the UK electoral system is against 'third parties' whose support is widely spread rather than concentrated.

Farage, known as one of Brexit’s chief architects, recently left UKIP, when the party leader brought in former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson as an adviser.

Farage still rallied “Leave” campaigners this week to re-engage with the millions of people who have never voted before, as the momentum for a second vote continues to increase.

A UKIP spokesperson told Euronews that Robinson holds no role within the party, and is only a personal adviser to party leader Gerard Batten on “rape gang phenomenon and prison reform.”

What would a UKIP campaign for a second referendum look like?

UKIP sources told Euronews that if Brexit is overturned it would be a “huge irony” and a great opportunity for UKIP to gain support. They also said that if Article 50 is extended, the May 2019 European Elections could be a chance for voters to flood to UKIP and register a protest vote.

UKIP also raised the question that in the case of a “Remain” win, why shouldn’t “Leave” press for yet another Referendum to make it best of three?

They also question what the exact wording would look like on the paper ballot: “Remain or Leave”, “Remain or Mrs May’s Deal”, “WTO or Mrs May’s Deal”, “WTO or Remain”, “WTO or Norway Plus”, “WTO or Canada Plus”?

British political scientist and professor of politics at the University of Warwick, Wyn Grant, told Euronews that presumably, UKIP would emphasise the betrayal of the first vote by politicians in Westminster if a second referendum were called. He also said that the second vote could be an opportunity for UKIP to grow, although the party has been recently weakened by internal division.

Dr Garnett agreed that If there were another EU parliamentary election in prospect, UKIP would be well placed to win seats. He added that, ironically, the party’s best chance of a breakthrough will come if they fail in their self-appointed task as 'guard dogs of Brexit', since there will never be any EU elections in Britain unless the referendum is overturned.

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