It’s not been a great week for Ukip. Following Paul Nuttall’s by-election loss in Stoke-on-Trent Central, the Ukip leader went on holiday while his party went into free fall. As Nigel Farage mounted a coup against Douglas Carswell over reports that Ukip’s only MP had scuppered Farage’s chances of being awarded a knighthood, Arron Banks labelled Nuttall’s leadership ‘weak’ and told the Ukip leader to make him party chairman (or else).
Today Nuttall finally resurfaced with an appearance on the Andrew Marr show. The Ukip leader attempted to draw a line in the sand over the negative publicity his by-election campaign had attracted. Asked about reports that he had lied about losing a close friend at Hillsborough, Nuttall went on the offensive. He accused Labour of being behind smears against him — before blaming the media for overreacting:
‘But look, people need to get a bit of perspective on this: it’s not as if I’ve lied about weapons of mass destruction. It’s not as if I’ve taken us into an illegal war. The way some of the media have portrayed this has been unfair.’
As a general rule, if you’re having to use the Iraq war to make your own falsehoods look less bad, it’s not going particularly well. When Marr put to Nuttall that he had become a bit of a joke thanks to the various mistruths out there (which range from a career as a professional footballer to a phantom PhD), the leader said he was ‘the right person to lead this party’ as he was the only person who could unify the party.
Judging by this week’s events many would now dispute this. What’s more, with Nuttall ruling out expelling Carswell or making Banks chairman, the Farage camp are unlikely to be happy. However, Nuttall remains confident that his party’s fortunes will soon turnaround once the government begins to ‘backslide’ on Brexit:
‘Ukip has got to hold its nerve, Ukip will come back..