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Nigel Farage, Future Tory Leader?

It is probably an understatement to say that Tories are in a bit of a pickle. The losses in the Tamworth and Mid-Bedfordshire by-elections, where Labour overturned huge majorities, are the latest symptoms that, as former Chancellor George Osborne put it, the Tory Party is facing "political armageddon".

The disgraced MP Nadine Dorries, irrefutably responsible for the disaster in her former constituency of Mid-Bedfordshire, is one of the cheerleaders for the infighting that is ripping up the Party by its roots. The Tory Party is genuinely drifting away from the one-nation Conservative roots planted by Peel and his – get this –Tamworth manifesto, and are reshaping themselves into a populist right-wing party.

No one would blame you for thinking it couldn't get any worse, but there’s a good chance it can. The images of Priti Patel and Nigel Farage having the night of their lives at the Conservative Party conference will be forever burnt into our minds. Several rumours surrounding Priti Patel's future Strictly partner, Nigel Farage, say he may be potentially readmitted into, and even lead, the Tory Party in the aftermath of what looks to be a disastrous next general election.

Rishi Sunak has not refuted the possibility of Farage's readmission. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that the right-wing of the Party actually like Farage a lot. Hence, absolute limbs beneath the disco lights.

It is a grave testament that, once again, the right-wing faction of the Party – crowned after Theresa May was puppeteered out of office – is at their leader’s throat yet again. So, Rishi Sunak is forced to feed the wolves and refuse to cross off Farage's comeback. This is something that during the Cameron years would have been downright insanity. Farage was the adversary, and the Brexiteers were mocked as the "awkward squad". If I may use a famous quote: "Well, you're not laughing now, are you?"

Mr Farage said he'd be "surprised" if he weren't leading the Tories by 2026. What a contrast to the 10-ft pole approach used by the Party since the start of the 21st century until the referendum in 2016.

Nigel Farage left the Conservatives in 1992 in protest over the Maastricht Treaty, which set the foundation for the political body of the European Union. Ironically, he was first elected to the European Parliament in 1999, where, in terrible torment, he stayed for the next 20 years. As mentioned, the Conservative Party, dusting itself down following the nightmare of the Tony Blair premiership (1997-2007), sought to distance itself from the likes of Farage. Blair would often speculate that they feared him. So, the Conservatives slicked back their hair under David Cameron, pursued a modern agenda comparable to New Labour's, and sought the middle ground.

In 2016, Cameron and the Vote Remain stood on the cold, hard facts: an exit from the European Union would negatively affect the economy. To be fair, Farage didn't find himself on the other team either, but its rhetoric was the same: stoke up a storm of mistruths to present the other side as an evil alien force about to invade and steal the Union Flag.

Seven years on, the Tories have imploded; different factions are torching any remnants of past principles, and infighting is tearing the Party to shreds. So why not consider what a Farage leadership would look like?

Nigel Farage is one of the leaders of the populist movement whichED by is currently sweeping through Europe – with populist Governments in Poland and Italy, and the threat of populism in the two leading countries in the European Union; the rise of the AfD party in Germany and Marine Le Pen in France.

Therefore, the post-2024 period is significant for the Conservatives; they must clean themselves up. Either the Party rebuilds itself again as a moderate one-nation party, or it will backslide further into populist hands.

Principles like integrity, paternalism, fiscal responsibility and order, the foundational principles of Conservatism, are being torched, and Farage is the one with the jerry can.

Image: Getty/via Politico

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