UKIP leader Nigel Farage has been named ‘Briton of the Year’ by the Times of London. The paper awarded him the title for what it called his “game-changing” politics in a year in which the party won the European elections and gained its first two elected MPs.
The paper writes: “By any account, 2014 has been a stellar year for Ukip and its leader. After more than two decades on the fringes, the party has finally bulldozed its way into the political mainstream, led from the front by Mr Farage.”
It adds that Farage “set the political agenda for 2014” after spending years “plugging away in the political wilderness, his amphibian features popping up only occasionally after a dig at a European bureaucrat or other form of Brussels pondlife.”
Nigel Farage took to Twitter to Twitter to thank the paper:
Despite all, The Times has named me Briton of the year. Attacks aside, I am grateful. Thank you. http://t.co/6gqGvjoPVL
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) December 26, 2014
The accolade comes after the Times, along with many other UK papers, spent much of the year attacking the UK Independence Party. In the run up to the European Elections, newspapers reported a large number of gaffes from UKIP candidates and activists on social media, while giving less prominence to similar mistakes from other parties.
Despite this, the party went on to finish first in the elections, the first time a non-mainstream party had won an election in the UK for 100 years.
In 2008, the Sunday Times was forced to pay damages to the UKIP leader and publicly apologise after it accused him of using EU funds to pay his son as an assistant. The paper accepted that there was “in fact no foundation to the allegation”.