Kevin Maguire: The party's over for Ukip - and Nigel Farage knows it
Ukip's next leader looks set to be a shaven-headed Scouser who opposes abortion and lacks the manufactured appeal of Farage.
Nigel Farage's thirst for the limelight as well as a belly full of beer or a bottle of wine, and sometimes both in the same lunch time, will test to destruction the theory Ukip's a one man band.
The privately educated City trader turned professional politician spent the Wednesday evening lapping up the applause of zillionaires and Tory press barons at the Ritz. The extravagant bash thrown in Farage's honour was the right-wing elite basking in its shameless arrogance.
Napoleon and the pigs partying with humans at the end of George Orwell's Animal Farm displayed more humility than a wealthy Brexit bunch smugly pleased with itself on the night the independent Office for Budget Responsibility forecast they'll cost the country £60-billion.
Farage the self-styled patriot is equally unnerved by the irony of a US-President elect seeking to appoint the Washington ambassador of an independent Britain when the old boozer himself is the beneficiary of Donald Trump trolling Theresa May.
The political party he drove as a useful vehicle for his gargantuan ego faces an existential, potentially fatal threat when Farage is replaced as leader on Monday. Because Farage was Ukip and Ukip is Farage.
The red hot favourite is MEP and former deputy leader Paul Nuttall who will hope to outlast the 18 days of a Diane James. She was crowned in September before abdicating in October after belatedly recognising the purple rabble is ungovernable.
Shaven-headed Scouser Nuttall recites the standard Ukip talk of going after Labour voters in Northern England but the social conservative, a supporter of judicial executions and opponent of abortions, will struggle to walk the talk..
Lacking Farage's manufactured appeal and unlikely to enjoy a seemingly reserved seat on BBC1's Question Time, Nuttall will find journalists remain more interested in mercurial Nige. He'll need a hell of an image to top Farage with Trump in front of golden doors.
Whether or not Farage opts to be a migrant worker, moving to the US, he'll continue sucking in the oxygen of publicity – undermining a successor kept gasping for coverage on the airwaves.
Ukip's 3.9m votes at the last General Election and the mission accomplishment of Brexit may prove the party's high water mark with the only way is down. Setting itself up as the defender of Brexit, denouncing Tony Blair and Philip Hammond and anybody who dares question the wisdom of self-destruction, might provide respite.
But as the costs of departure come in, workers who voted to quit picking up the tab, not the Ritz crowd who led the campaign with disinformation and lies, Ukip won't look so clever. The anti-migrant party won one seat at the last general election. After the next the odds are the number will be a big fat zero
Farage knows this is the moment to quit. He knows that the party's over for Ukip That's why he's off to cash-in.
Kevin Maguire is associate editor of the Daily Mirror
Picture by: Evan Vucci/AP/Press Association Images
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