What do the party's 'six tests' tell us about its politics?
With the sudden resignation of Douglas Carswell on Saturday, the UK Independence Party now has a sum total of zero members of parliament.
New leader Paul Nuttall failed to win a seat in Stoke Central in January, while his predecessor Nigel Farage lost in every general election he contested, and Tory defector Mark Reckless was booted out of Westminster in 2015.
Yet the party insists on having everything its own way, issuing ‘six tests’ for Brexit ahead of Theresa May triggering Article 50 this week.
Unlike Labour’s six tests, released this morning, which are concerned with protecting current trade benefits and human rights, UKIP’s list is a statement of hardline ideology, national interest be damned.
They include not a penny going to the EU either in a settlement payment or ongoing payments, losing the benefits of the Single Market and Customs Union in favour of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, ‘full control’ of immigration and asylum policies, and a call for Brexit talks to be over by 2019.
Questions like, ‘What if this would make people’s lives worse than they are now?’ don’t seem to matter to UKIP. The party wants to pull up the drawbridge, full stop.
Except they don’t. Despite the guff included about parliament making laws and control of seas and borders, (you can almost hear them humming the national anthem as they bashed this out), the world they hope for – as revealed by the WTO point – would leave Britain at the mercy of international corporations and bigger countries and economies.
The latter of course includes the European Union, which will be able to dictate terms like never before, and an increasingly protectionist United States, with the UK government already proving its willingness to bend the knee for a trade deal with Trump.
As Observer columnist Nick Cohen has noted, those who beat the drum and wave the flag of patriotism are often the greatest enemies of a nation’s interests.
UKIP remains what it always was: a cranky shadow of the Tory party with a nostalgia for 19th century-style British capitalism dressed up as ‘national identity’.
What a shame its collapse as an electoral force comes as the Conservative Party in government adopts a more presentable looking version of that very programme.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.
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