UKIP has lost control of its last remaining local authority, after a councillor defected to the Tories. And it completes the far-right party’s democratic wipeout; as it now has no MPs and lost 145 council seats at the last local elections.
Thanet Council was previously a UKIP-led authority, with the party holding a majority of 27 seats. But on 21 July, councillor Beverly Martin defected from UKIP to the Conservatives; meaning that her former party lost overall control. It is now possible that, if the Tories, Labour and independent councillors form a working coalition, they could defeat UKIP.
Martin, who has changed parties twice before, told BBC News:
We had the opportunity to be a flagship council, that is a very rare privilege and I really had enormous hopes that we would make significant changes on social issues, development and economic issues. Frankly we haven’t, not as UKIP. It’s Craig Mackinlay, our [Tory] MP for South Thanet who invited me last year to form a group for assessing what we might do with the port and the beaches, that came from the Conservatives. That is where the energy is coming from.
The loss of control of Thanet Council comes after a local election wipeout for UKIP in May. It lost 145 seats, leaving it in control of just Thanet Council. And the party got a trouncing in the general election on 8 June, getting just 1.8% (594,000) of the vote; down 10.8% on 2015. Its leader at the time, Paul Nuttall, resigned immediately, saying:
If UKIP is to prosper, it must continue to be the outrider of British politics – the party that leads and does not follow…
But unfortunately for its new interim leader, Steve Crowther, UKIP is doing very little leading at present. And with the unceremonious loss of Thanet Council, it would seem that the public neither wants UKIP to lead them, nor do they wish to follow it.
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