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Nigel Farage rules himself out of the election race

Photo: ITV Meridian

Nigel Farage has teased everyone - will he? won't he? - but his decision not to stand in the general election is really no surprise.

A few weeks ago UKIP announced they were going to select their candidate for South Thanet. I asked Mr Farage if he would put his name forward - expecting a no - but he said he was thinking about it. Senior sources in UKIP hinted he might well stand.

Theresa May's election announcement has obviously concentrated his mind. As he told listeners to his LBC show tonight he thought long and hard but had pretty much decided not to run in Thanet.

It would be a bruising campaign. 2015 was not a pleasant experience for him. And of course there was a good chance he'd lose...again.

But then today the news of Douglas Carswell standing down offered him a much more tempting prospect - Clacton, where there was more than a good chance he would win and become an MP at long, long last.

Credit: PA

But two reasons made him decide not to run. One he talked about onLBC. He said being the leader of a group in the European Parliament gives him a much more powerful platform during the Brexit negotiations than being a backbench MP in Westminster. That is certainly true.

But there is another reason. Nigel Farage is enjoying his new life. He loves doing a nightly show on LBC. Twenty years ago he told me his dream was to host a radio talk show.

He loves being a regular contributor to Fox News in America where they call him the man behind Brexit. He loves his speaking engagements in America. He loves his access to the movers and shakers in the Trump administration including of course on at least two occasions the President himself.

It's a lifestyle he's dreamed about - and he surely prefers it to trudging the streets of Ramsgate in search of votes in an election he might well lose.

But Nigel Farage will remain an MEP for the southeast and he will be very vocal in the European Parliament fighting for the kind of Brexit he wants.

Tonight though his other dream has died: after seven failed attempts he'll never be an MP. It was a dream that began in the Eastleigh by-election which was held on June 9 1994.

Exactly 23 years later we'll know the result of Election 2017...and for the first time since Eastleigh Nigel Farage's name won't be on any ballot paper.

By Phil Hornby