UKIP’s next leader: Who will save (or scuttle) the ship?

The new leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) will be announced on Friday amid fears the fractured movement could collapse entirely.

Under the leadership of Nigel Farage, the right-wing party achieved the rarest of political feats in securing its entire aim with the fulfilment of the Brexit vote, after almost two decades of campaigning.

Yet within the space of a year, the party has faced collapse with the departure of Farage.

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© Frederick Florin

Paul Nuttall ran a disastrous leadership effort for eight months, after succeeding Diane James, who lasted just eighteen days in the role.

Now, the party is set to name its latest chieftain at its annual party conference, following a bizarre leadership contest.

With 11 hats in the ring initially, the debates were long and confusing. Now, with that number whittled down to seven, it is still unclear who will take the reins.

Insiders say if the Pegida UK co-founder and anti-sharia-law campaigner Anne Marie Waters is selected, the extreme views of her followers could push the party over the cliff edge.

Voters have threatened to quit the party over Waters’ extreme anti-Islam rhetoric.

UKIP has already lost a significant number of voters, dropping from 4 million in the 2015 general election to fewer than 600,000 in June this year.

The final candidates hoping to turn the party’s fortunes around, and ensure Brexit goes ahead, include MEP Jane Collins, Nuttall’s former deputy Peter Whittle, London Assembly Member David Kurten, ex-soldier Henry Bolton, John Rees-Evans and Aidan Powlesland – who (genuinely) wants to mine the asteroid belt for minerals.

The leader will be announced at the party conference in Torquay, which, according to reports, Nigel Farage will not be attending.