What’s with all the resignations in the UK?

Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party and a leading advocate of withdrawal from the EU, has suddenly resigned his party leadership, adding to the large list of people who have decided to take a lower profile following the Brexit vite.

I don’t get it. I can understand prime minister David Cameron resigning since he lost the vote. I can sort of understand Boris Johnson withdrawing from the leadership race after discovering that his support had largely evaporated. I am perplexed by the mass resignations of members of Labour Party’s shadow cabinet at just the time when they should be taking advantage of the ruling Conservative’s disarray. The only reason I can think of for that move is that many of the Labour MPs hate their party leader Jeremy Corbyn more than they want to form the next government.

But Farage? He should be doing a victory lap and seeking to use the Brexit vote to win more seats for his party in the next general election than the solitary seat it currently has. Farage himself has failed in his bid to be elected MP and is currently a member of the European parliament, a body that he despises. This would have been a good chance for him to win a seat in the next British parliament.

So why did he resign? It is true that he has resigned as leader twice before but why now? He has given the equivalent of the well-worn “to spend more time with my family” reason but I am skeptical. Any mavens of British politics who can provide plausible reasons?


  1. cartomancer says

    Nigel Farage has always been a one-issue politician, and UKIP a one-issue party. Taking Britain out of the EU is literally the only thing in politics he has ever been interested in. He left the Tory party in 1992 after the Maastrict Treaty was signed and founded UKIP soon after.

    I suspect this marks the end of UKIP too, unless we find some way not to leave after all. Their one campaigning issue has now been resolved in their favour. They don’t need parliamentary seats or local councillors anymore.

  2. hyphenman says


    I’m very puzzled as well and all I can come up with are bizarre conspiracy theories.

    Maybe the smoke will clear in a week or two.


  3. cartomancer says

    As for the Labour defections, they are the result of a conflict within the party between the Blairite, centre-veering-right, big business friendly wing of the party (which happens to be where most of the MPs come from, many of them career politicians up to their necks in the Westminster greasy pole game) and the traditional Socialist wing of the party that was marginalised during the Blair years. The majority of grass roots party activists and members have always been on the socialist wing, and Corbyn is their mouthpiece. He got the leadership thanks to their support, and they see him as the best chance to make Labour back into a genuine left-wing alternative to the austerity-happy Tories.

    What we are seeing here is the backlash from the Blairites, who are quite happy with Labour being Tories Lite and contesting the ground of the centre right. To them Corbyn represents a dangerous destabilising influence and a resurgence of the old Labour Party from before Blair transformed it.

  4. says

    I think it really is that he’s achieved his aim of getting the UK to withdraw from the EU, but doesn’t want to spend time helping to sort out what that actually means. It’s not as if UKIP had any real policies except for withdrawing from the EU, and that’s been (very nearly) accomplished.

  5. Knack says

    UKIP is single issue party, it was founded with the sole purpose of getting the UK out of the EU. It’s made some attempts to reposition as general populist right wing party but has never really managed to develop a wider platform. The press, commentators and the party itself keep talking up its prospects but it’s difficult to see where they can go now that they’ve achieved their only policy and lost their main attraction to voters.

    I think that’s why he resigned, unless parliament finds a way to prevent Brexit, theres no real reason for UKIP anymore. Farage probably sees this and is leaving now, either so that he can come back later in a different political outfit or to find some cushy position in another field.

  6. John Morales says

    PS and, of course, the claim that the aim of the UK exiting the EU has been achieved is a falsehood.

    (The UK is palpably still a member of the EU)

  7. John Smith says

    Funnily enough, Corbyn was also challenged to protect Tony Blair from the Chilcot Report. Corbyn, you see, was open to prosecuting the war criminal.

  8. Jockaira says

    #2 Siobhan seems the most likely. Now that the place is stinkin’ up, they want to get out and miss the hard work of cleaning up the mess and washing the sheets. Pretty much like the Republicans blaming Bush’s 2008 financial debacle on Obama and offering all sorts of Voodoo cures, including impeachment, theocracy, and dissolution of the IRS.

  9. sonofrojblake says

    Re: UKIP -- what everyone else said. Single issue party, job basically done. Note: their one MP isn’t what he might appear on first look. Carswell is a defector from the Conservatives, rather than a “proper” kipper. He resigned as Conservative MP and defected to the kippers triggering a by-election, but you can bet he’d carefully calculated that he’d win that before he jumped.

    Re: Labour: the important thing to realise is that the Labour party is really two entities. On the one hand you have the Labour party members, almost half a million of them (in a country of seventy million or so) -- twice as many as there were even just a couple of years ago. They are active lefties, in the main sick of the centre-left mainstream and many of them are young “smash-the-state” idealists. On the other hand you have the Parliamentary Labour Party -- i.e. the actual MPs, the ones who understand how politics actually works because it’s their job. That lot are, in the main, centrist in their politics, for the simple reason that most of them didn’t get into politics to snipe from the sidelines -- they want to win elections. They want power, because if you don’t have any power, what’s the point of being a politician? Their figurehead is Tony Blair, the only Labour leader to win an election in the last forty years. The lefty tendency in Labour use the word “Blairite” as an insult, presumably on the basis that they despise anyone who actually manages to get things done. It’s unfortunate that Blair’s footnote in history is going to be “Iraq”, rather than “minimum wage”, “peace in Northern Ireland” or any of the other great things he achieved in his time. Whatever else he was (war criminal?), he was a winner.
    Corbyn is the darling of the membership, but those half million people are simply no use. They’re not going to win an election with Corbyn in charge. He very very obviously never wanted to be leader -- he only threw his hat into the ring literally with minutes to spare because there wasn’t a “proper” lefty on the leadership ballot and he felt that there should at least be one there for the look of the thing. Him winning was as unexpected, and as unwelcome, as the Brexit result, and it’s obvious that his loathed by most of his own side in Parliament. He’s an electoral liability and terrible at the job of opposition leader. As you say -- Labour should be making hay with Tory disarray at this point, and Corbyn’s utter failure to lead his party effectively is an indictment of his uselessness.

  10. Dunc says

    It is true that he has resigned as leader twice before but why now?

    He likes a long summer holiday. I have no doubt that he’ll be back again in the autumn.

  11. katybe says

    I have a horrible feeling he’s been promised an advisory seat on the future cabinet (possibly coupled with seat in the Lords) if either of the main leave candidates win the Tory leadership campaign, but only if he joins the conservative party instead -- there are a couple of precedents for non-MPs to have a sort-of-cabinet role, such as Alan Sugar being named enterprise tsar.

  12. Nick Gotts says

    UKIP is not a single-issue party. In addition to hostility to the EU, it is an all-purpose reactionaries’ and bigots’ club. Racists, xenophobes, Islamophobes, antisemities, misogynists, homophobes… all find a home-from-home in UKIP; and hostility to immigration and immigrants, even more than hostility to the EU, has always been its main appeal. The big divide over Brexit in the negotiation phase is going to be whether to prioritise continued access to the Single European Market, or the end of free moverment from EU states -- because whatever some Brexiters claim, the UK is not going to get both. Probably the Tories will end up plumping for the former, which is what their big business backers want -- so UKIP will be able to present themselves as the only party fully committed to halting immigration (which in itself would be economically very damaging, but undoubtedly has popular appeal).

    John Morales @8 is wrong to describe UKIP as National Socialist, although like the NSDAP it does dangle a few deceptive pseudo-leftist carrots in front of unemployed and low-paid workers -- its role is specifically to cater for those who find the Conservative Party too liberal, or resent Labour’s reluctance to go far enough in pandering to racism, but can’t stomach the out-and-out neo-Nazis who dominate parties such as the BNP and Britain First. It is also -- wouldn’t you know it? -- resolutely AGW-denialist. As for Farage’s resignation -- it’s possible he means it now, but I doubt he’ll find it easy to do without all the attention, nor does UKIP appear to have anyone with a tenth of his public appeal.

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