For years, Britain's far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP) played a defining role in pressuring former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to call a referendum to leave the European Union.
They got their wish, and it resulted in one of the biggest political upsets of the last century when the UK voted to “take back control” and leave.
With the Brexit deadline rapidly approaching, UKIP, the self-proclaimed “Brexit guard dog,” is warning that a Brexit delay would only reassure people’s mistrust in Westminster politicians.
"UKIP sincerely hopes that Brexit is not delayed, however, if it is, UKIP, the Party of Brexit, will go into European Parliament elections (beginning May 23) as the choice at the ballot box for the 17.4 million betrayed voters who want Britain to leave the EU,” a UKIP spokesman told Euronews.
“UKIP would then work with the growing Eurosceptic movement across Europe to form a united front against an ever-closer union and a United States of Europe."
Now as current Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to return to Brussels and navigate renegotiations of her hard-lines with EU leadership, UKIP is turning up the pressure again on Westminster to “represent the will” of those who voted to leave in June 2016.
On Tuesday (January 29), British MP’s voted for amendments such as taking a ‘no-deal’ scenario off the table and called for the Irish backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements.
May said today during Prime Minister questions that Tuesday’s vote sent a "very clear message" to the EU that a deal could be reached in the House of Commons.
Although the PM was successful in uniting both Brexiteers and Remainers in the Tory Party, experts question whether any actually progress was made that will bring the UK closer to a deal with the EU. Brussels has repeatedly said the current withdrawal agreement remains the best and only deal possible .
“It's at square -1,” Dr Mark Garnett, Senior Lecturer in Politics at Lancaster University told Euronews,
“At least when the talks began, there was some chance that the British would work constructively and reach a withdrawal agreement quite smoothly," said Garnett.
"Now, because of our government's self-defeating tactics, the talks will have to focus on the trickiest question of all in an atmosphere of mutual incomprehension (on the British side) and something close to panic.”
Other amendments which included delaying Brexit by extending Article 50 were rejected by MPs in the House of Commons.
"UKIP is pleased that thanks to the failure of a number of amendments last night, the UK is still on course for a World Trade Organization (WTO) Brexit on March 29, 2019," a UKIP spokesman told Euronews.
"UKIP supports the current Brexit trajectory.”
Some experts have speculated on whether UKIP will be able to garner the same energy that motivated thier base leading up to Brexit without the dynamically vocal Nigel Farage driving the party’s agenda.
Farage, one of the chief architects of Brexit, left the party in December because he said UKIP was turning a blind eye to extremist politics after current leader Gerard Batten MEP brought in former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson as an adviser.
UKIP previously told Euronews Robinson has no official role with the party and is only an advisor to Batten on issues such as prison form.
Gerard Batten is starting to step up his vocal concerns of the government’s handling of Brexit especially when it comes to the World Trade Organisation.
UKIP says abiding under WTO rules would benefit the UK by providing trade without discrimination, promising fair competition and encouraging economic development and reform.
“Out of the whole world, only 28 countries, including the UK for now, are in the EU. The others have no problem whatsoever with trading with the EU,” said Batten via a video message on the UKIP website.
“We do not need a trade deal any more than other countries who already trade with the European Union,” says Batten.
UKIP leadership also says the UK’s future shouldn’t be dictated by being tied indefinitely to the structure of a “failing EU” and believes the UK would “cash in rather than crash out” if they exited without a special trade deal.
Batten added that any trade deal imposed upon Britain would only benefit the EU.
Batten said in the video that the last two and a half years of negotiating a withdraw from the EU has been a “charade” because Theresa May is a “Remainer” herself.
He added that the non-existing problems that Westminster is eager to solve before the UK leaves are “totally false.”
Another delicate issue that Theresa May hopes the EU will budge on is the Irish backstop.
The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is a member of the UK, runs for 499 km and has approximately 270 public road crossings. Crossing from one country to the other, whether for business or pleasure, is a routine part of people’s daily lives on both sides.
“There has to be a way of preventing a hard border in Ireland and for all the talk of alternatives no one has come up with one,” says British political scientist and professor of politics at the University of Warwick, Wyn Grant.
However, UKIP does not believe the Ireland border issue should factor into the UK’s discussions with Brussels whatsoever.
"Neither the UK nor the Republic of Ireland desires to create a hard border on the island of Ireland. Discussions about the border should be entirely between two sovereign nation-states, without the meddling input of the European Union,” a UKIP spokesman told Euronews.
"We're watching you"
A West Sussex county organiser for UKIP named John Wallace, is under fire after distributing UKIP branded leaflets that labelled supporters of Theresa May’s Brexit deal as ‘national traitors’.
The text read in bold purple letters: We would classify anyone prepared to vote for this agreement as a national traitor or state enemy - and we're watching you.
A spokesman for UKIP told Euronews that this was not UKIP literature and they consider this 'manufactured outrage' to be a desperate attack by the failing political class.
”Although the wording was clumsy, the intention was clear: we must hold MPs to account through close scrutiny of their voting records to ensure that they do not betray the 17.4 Million people who voted to make Brexit happen," said the spokesman.
"The only thing we are threatening are the seats of MPs in parliament.”