Three days after quitting as Ukip leader, Nigel Farage is un-quitting. He tendered his resignation, but the party’s national executive rejected it.
On Friday, moments after it was revealed that he had failed to win a parliamentary seat, Farage invited reporters to a windy spot outside a guest house to announce that he was standing down.
It was an unusual moment, half-way between a cliff face and a wake in a hotel. Because although the announcement was expected, Farage had held one detail back. Shortly before driving off into the distance, he added that he might stand for leader again, later in the year.
Immediately, senior party figures were calling for him to stay on. Despite rejecting descriptions of Ukip as a ‘one man band’, they were aware that it was under Farage’s leadership that they had grown from being a near-non-entity to becoming the third most popular party in British politics.
Suddenly, after a bruising election campaign which had resulted in just one seat, despite a 13 percent share of the vote, the party was having to look forward. The general election was history, and their solitary seat in the Commons gave them little to show for it. They now had to think towards the future, and a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
The party will need its most powerful voices banging the drum for ‘BREXIT’. Consequently, Ukip wasn’t ready for life without Farage. And, it seems, neither was he.