Nigel Farage has today suggested that if the vote in the coming EU Referendum is close then there may have to be a 2nd Referendum. While this has been ridiculed by Cameron and others, he may, however regrettably, be right.
It is worth remembering that while UKIP has only one Member of Parliament in the Commons and 3 has-been peers in the House of Lords, it now has 24 members in the European Parliament, 497 local councillors and 7 members in the Welsh National Assembly. Ever since it was founded in 1991 by Alan Sked, UKIP has made progress. While it lost the face-off with the James Goldsmith funded Referendum Party, by 2004 it had come 3rd in the European Parliament elections with 16.1% of the vote. After Farrage became leader in 2006 he obtained substantial funding from former Conservative donors and in the 2009 European elections UKIP came 2nd after the Conservatives with 16.5% of the vote. In the 2013 local government elections it obtained 13% of the vote and in 2014 it got 163 seats and 27.49% of the vote in the European Parliament elections bringing its total number of MEP’s to 24.
UKIP is mainly supported by older, less skilled and less well educated working-class voters of which a high proportion are former Conservative voters. Some Eurosceptic Conservative politicians may be tempted to jump ship and side with UKIP.
After all, UKIP has several high profile former Conservative backers: Stuart Wheeler, has donated more than £403,690 since 2009. In October 2014, Arron Banks, who previously gave £25,000 to the Conservatives, increased his UKIP donation from £100,000 to £1 million. . In December 2014, Richard Desmond, proprietor of Express Newspapers, donated £300,000 to UKIP. The donation indicated that Desmond’s papers, the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, would back UKIP in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Three weeks before the election, Desmond gave the party another £1 million.
UKIP seems to be developing a base comparable with that of the French Front National and Forza Italia and he will continue to have influence within the European Parliament.
While a 2nd referendum seems unlikely this time around, unless both Conservatives and Labour get their act together on debunking UKIP, a 2nd referendum may be a real possibility in the not too distant future.