As the man behind Brexit, Nigel Farage has changed history

Morning View
Morning View

Some people – a minority of pundits – predicted a UK vote for Brexit last month.

But no-one can have foreseen that there would both be Brexit and then the collapse of the key people who advocated it.

First Boris Johnson, who was favourite to become prime minister in the aftermath of the vote to leave the EU, imploded.

He abandoned his campaign to become leader of the Conservatives after Michael Gove sensationally withdrew his support for the former mayor of London, and launched a devastating attack on Mr Johnson’s character.

Then Mr Gove’s own stock plummeted among Tories, as MPs reacted badly to what was seen as his ‘knifing’ of Mr Johnson.

Mr Gove might yet become leader – he could make the final two in the contest of Tory MPs and then win over the members. But it seems increasingly unlikely that that will happen.

And then, yesterday, the architect of Brexit, Nigel Farage, announced that he was quitting as leader of Ukip.

Mr Farage built Ukip from a fringe movement into a major political force that won a staggering 14% of the vote at the last general election – an almost unprecedented level of support for a fourth nationwide party. It was the electoral threat posed by Mr Farage that led to David Cameron pledging to hold an In-Out referendum on the EU.

And it is important to emphasise that it was a threat posed by Mr Farage, not by Ukip. No-one else – Suzanne Evans, Douglas Carswell, Paul Nuttall – would have resonated in the same way with voters, as the party will soon find.

Mr Farage was dismissed as far right but he was not an extremist – more a traditional right wing Tory, which is why he resonated with so many people. He was too blunt at times, but charming and loved visiting Northern Ireland.

He has resigned before, only to return. If he really has gone this time, then the rich irony of the Brexit outcome is that it has left the country in the hands of Remain leaders.