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United Kingdom Independence Party

Founded in 1993, UKIP has largely been a one-issue party; working to get Britain out of the EU. It held nine out of the UK's 73 seats in the European Parliament after the 2009 election, but without a broader political platform and grass-roots organization, UKIP has failed to win seats in the British parliament at Westminster.

The small anti-European Union party rocked the British political establishment by scoring a better-than-expected result in 2009 elections for the European parliament. The election was considered another setback for British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Euro-skeptic British voters shocked the ruling Labor Party and the opposition Conservative Party in elections for members of the European parliament.

The United Kingdom Independence Party, which would pull Britain out of the European Union, scored a surprising third-place finish, just five points behind Labor and ahead of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats. A UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, said the major parties are out of step with the public's anti-EU sentiments. "What we have done is we have allowed some people to re-enter the democratic process who for the last 10 years have not been voting for anybody," said Mr. Farage. "And the message out of tonight surely must be that the entire political class is headed in one direction but the vast majority of ordinary Brits went ahead in another direction."

The results cast a shadow over Prime Minister Blair's drive to cement Britain's relations with the European Union, notably through a new EU constitution. He is due to attend an EU summit Thursday, amid opposition calls that he not sign a draft of the document in light of the election results. Blair's Labor Party received the support of just more than one in five voters, its poorest showing in any election in more than 80 years. The Conservative Party did not fare much better, garnering just more than one in four votes, a 10 percent drop from the last EU election, in 1999.

A Labor Party leader, Health Secretary John Reid, told British radio he was disappointed with the results, but he said most of the UKIP votes came from former Conservative Party supporters. "It was, I think, a particularly disastrous night for the Conservatives," he said, "and it has been a good night across Europe, as it happens, for parties of protest and well as parties who are, in Britain, against the European Union."

Reid says the Blair government will forge ahead with stronger ties to Europe while protecting its sovereignty on issues such as taxes and defense, what Britain calls "red lines". "We believe that Europe brings huge and undoubted benefits to the people of this country," said Mr. Reid. "On the constitution, we have made plain that we have red lines that we will not concede. The challenge for us, and for the United Kingdom at the council that is coming up, is to get a treaty which will make the enlarged Europe work effectively when we need it, and which protects our national choices."

UKIP had 13 elected Members of the European Parliament and 223 local government representatives all of whom represent areas in England. In Scotland they polled just 0.91 percent of the vote at the last election and despite the reference to UK in their party name, they were widely perceived to be an English based party.

The leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip), Nigel Farage MEP, said in May 2014 that he believes the EU and British Government have “provoked” the crisis in Ukraine. Farage, who was speaking to a rally of his supporters in Edinburgh, said “The European Union have actually provoked much of the upset in the Ukraine by offering membership and this is true also of NATO.” The right wing politician, whose party had no representation in Scotland but had growing popular support in England, added that he believed the British Prime Minister, David Cameron and his Foreign Secretary William Hague had played prominent roles in the Ukraine crisis. “It’s been incredulous watching this because it seems to me that if you poke the Russian bear with a stick you are bound to get a reaction. I am very sorry for the way things are” .

UKIP was forecast to make the biggest splash at the polls on 22 May 2014, and it did in local council elections, where it gained more than 89 seats after over half of the returns had been counted on Friday morning. The results of the vote for European Parliament weren't due to be announced until May 25, after the polls in the final country, Italy, close.

UKIP's success is seen by many as one of the reasons Prime Minister David Cameron promised a referendum on EU membership should he win next year's general elections. Despite UKIP's growing popularity, 42 percent of Britons polled just before the election said they would vote to stay in the EU if given the chance, while 37 percent would vote to leave.

UKIP's leader Nigel Farage was just one of many who described the results of the 25 May 2014 as an "earthquake." UKIP had no representatives in the British parliament, yet in the European elections it led the field, garnering 27 percent of the vote. As Farage declared, "This is just about the most extraordinary result in British politics for over 100 years."

UKIP had sought to distance itself from persistent accusations of racism and xenophobia, and reposition itself as part of the political mainstream. Extensive media coverage of its campaign, though often unfavorable, helped get its message across. The party's outspoken anti-immigration platform attracted disaffected voters from across the social and political spectrum who complain that the main parties have failed to address the issue. They hold that immigration, particularly from Eastern Europe, is a threat to the British economy - and they hold the EU responsible.

Defying projections, a majority of Britons voted on 23 June 2016, by a margin of ~52% to 48%, to leave the European Union. While London and Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain within the EU, voters in Wales and elsewhere in the UK voted in large numbers to back 'Brexit'. The British pound immediately collapsed against the US dollar to its lowest level since 1985.

On 04 Juy 2016 Nigel Farage, the man largely responsible for Brexit, announced he was resigning as the nativist party’s leader. At a press conference in London he said: “I want my life back.” He added: “I feel I have done my bit. I couldn't possibly achieve more than we did in that referendum. I stand aside. I won’t be changing my mind again, I promise you.”

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Page last modified: 04-07-2016 19:40:55 ZULU