Following the most difficult 24 hours of his party leadership, Nigel Farage’s position at the top of UKIP appears to be safe. There will now be a change of direction and tone at the top of the party following the departure of key advisers close to Farage, but after his appearance on BBC’s Question Time programme last night and the second intervention of his fellow MEP Patrick O’Flynn earlier in the day the storm that threatened to engulf the party is abating.
After some speculated that he may withdraw from the current affairs discussion programme, Farage’s presence on the Question Time panel was scrutinised even more closely than usual. The Telegraph’s conclusion is that he gave an “assured” performance and the BBC is reporting that he has “almost certainly seen off the (anonymous) calls for a leadership election”.
Questions regarding Farage’s leadership were raised and he did accept that he had “faults” as a person but explained that UKIP members want leaders that “have actually had a job in the real world and have some experience of life.” He also spoke of the support he continues to enjoy from party members and donors, and how leaving the party leaderless before the government’s proposed EU referendum would he wrong of him saying:
“The level of support for me in the party is phenomenal and, frankly, to go through a leadership contest at a time when Cameron says he’s renegotiating our relationship with the European Union would be a massive, massive mistake.”
Farage spoke of the conditions people work under during election campaigns and how party discipline that is necessary at such times can create a pressure cooker effect. He attributed the difficulties of the last days as people “blowing off steam” now the election is over.
Another MEP, Steven Woolfe, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme “of course we want [Farage] to stay” and that in his view voters “are not really concerned about the intricacies of people squabbling with one and another.”
Speaking to Sky News this morning Farage said support for his continued leadership within UKIP is “massive”, “extraordinary” and “astonishing”. He concluded:
“To read the ludicrous headlines in some of today’s newspapers makes you realise that actually this is a Conservative attempt and a Conservative lobby to try and destabilise UKIP and to use one or two people within who are disaffected.”