The outcome of the E.U referendum is likely to have profound implications across the political spectrum in this country. After a hectic period of campaigning all political parties will face a challenge to return to some sort of norm. In particular this will be a real struggle for UKIP, who throughout their history have been defined by this topic. The question is can UKIP survive or even flourish after the referendum?
A victory for the Brexiteers and by definition UKIP places the whole country in an unprecedented situation. David Cameron would be forced out and the country would be plunged into immediate negotiations over trade deals with Europe and the rest of the World. In this scenario UKIP may argue that only they can ensure a proper deal is negotiated and that the British public aren’t betrayed.
The other possibility is a win for the ‘Remain’ side. As the SNP have shown in Scotland, a referendum defeat does not spell the end for a political party or even that particular debate. Euroscepticism and fears over immigration will remain after the referendum and possibly a new opportunity could even emerge for UKIP to corner the Eurosceptic market in this country. Those hoping UKIP disappear after a referendum defeat will be sadly disappointed.
Leading figures within UKIP have already begun planning for this future. Over the last few weeks briefings to the press have started over a potential re-branding of the party after the referendum in the same style of the Italian Five Star Movement set up by Bepo Grillo. This movement pioneers online engagement and allows members to vote on policies. Although this has been tried successfully across Europe, it would be a first for this country.
Politics is an ever-changing dynamic and political parties have to constantly think on their feet. At this stage this proposal is only a consideration but UKIP may just be ahead of the curve here and therefore this is a situation to keep your eye on. One thing that can be guaranteed is that in one form or another UKIP are here to stay. The referendum will not and does not change this!
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – The Telegraph