Under its new leader, Ukip is united again – and those who don't like its new direction are being shown the door

'My ambition is not insignificant,' Nuttall said. 'I want to replace the Labour party and make Ukip the patriotic voice of working people'

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The Independent Online

Like the best science fiction baddies and video game bosses, Ukip knows how to channel its enemy. In its fight against what it deemed to be The Establishment" – the "wealthy metropolitan elite", the "big banks" and "the political class" – it was led by a private schoolboy turned City boy, turned career politician. (Nigel Farage, the great anti-Westminster elite hero, first stood for election to parliament at the age of 29, and carried on doing so for twenty five years). And, at least according to itself, it won.

Now, its raison d’etre (or should that be reason for being?) apparently achieved, it has set its sights upon the Labour Party and it has elected a working class boy from Bootle to do it. That alone is cause for Labour to be very worried indeed.

Paul Nuttall was elected Ukip’s latest new leader yesterday, barely three months since its last leader, Diane James, stood down, and the new favourite for the job, Stephen Woolfe, was very publicly hospitalised after an altercation with a Ukip MEP in Strasbourg. In a bold and certain victory speech, Nuttall did not, strictly speaking alter Ukip’s priorities. But he did reorder them.

Paul Nuttall: Who is Ukip's new leader?

“My ambition is not insignificant,” he said. “I want to replace the Labour party and make Ukip the patriotic voice of working people.”

Labour’s heartlands were never on board with Tony Blair’s "Third Way" Islington politics. They are even less on board with Jeremy Corbyn’s radical politics. And, as every last one of their MPs knows, enough of their core vote is pro-Brexit enough for any hint of Brexit denial to leave them as decimated in the north as they are in Scotland.

“Today the Labour Party has ceased to speak the language or address the issues of working people,” Nuttall said. “They have a leader who will not sing the national anthem, a shadow chancellor who seems to admire the IRA more than he does the British Army, a shadow foreign secretary who sneers at the English flag and a shadow home secretary who seems to advocate unlimited immigration.”

Nuttall made a plea for unity, too – and in trademark Ukip style. If you don’t want the kind of unity Nuttall is offering, "your time in Ukip is coming to an end."

The referendum was meant to be the end of Ukip, win or lose, but especially win. Don’t believe a word of it. It might still be divided, it might, possibly be on the verge of bankruptcy, but its support is not wavering, it has a new cause now, and the appearance of someone quite capable of leading that cause. And, to slightly amend the words of the man who will forever main their spiritual leader, if anyone out there is still laughing at them, well they really shouldn’t be laughing now.

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