Much relief in Downing Street this morning as Nigel Farage announces that he’s not standing in the Newark by-election. Coffee House readers had the best insight into the Ukip leader’s thinking when James posted the details of a conversation he’d had with Farage about the constituency. And his prediction that Farage may well decide to not stand was right.
Farage has bottled it, he’s frit. That’s what every relieved Conservative MP is saying this morning. It’s true: Farage got to the cliff edge, looked down, and edged away from what he saw. He didn’t fancy the battle and didn’t think that he could beat the Conservatives. He thought that this would burst the Ukip bubble just a few weeks after the European elections, where the party expects to do very well indeed.
But it is possible to bottle it for the right reasons. As Farage told Today, ‘I’m a fighter, I’m a warrior, but you have to pick your battles in life’. Why exhaust yourself on a fight you don’t think you can win? Ukip’s image is still very fragile. Instead, Farage can raise the profile of another Diane James-style candidate which gives the impression that his party isn’t a one-man band. ‘It’s about time that we had other people with a high profile in this country,’ he said. He has bottled it, but he knows it’s better than jumping off a cliff now.
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