‘Quick, Google him,’ came the cry from the press desks as the new UKIP leader was announced.
Henry Bolton’s appointment caught almost everyone off guard.
But in doing so it seems UKIP has stepped back from the brink and elected perhaps the most sensible (on paper) leader they have ever had.
Bolton was barely mentioned before the day UKIP announced their new leader. But at around lunchtime a buzz began to generate at their rather low-key conference at the Riviera Centre in Torquay.
The favourite had been anti-Islam candidate Anne Marie Waters. But as she was announced into second place and cheers rang out around the conference hall former hard leftie – turned best mate of Tommy Robinson – Waters dashed from the hall. She’s yet to surface,
So who is Bolton? Well if you look closely at his CV he definitely ticks all the traditional UKIP boxes: former copper, former army, he probably even wears tweed.
But he is – for UKIP at least – a moderate and he ran on a modernising ticket. In his press conference afterwards he wouldn’t even commit himself to the new party logo which had been voted on just hours before to much mocking on social media. ‘We will have a conversation about that,’ he said.
And the usual foot in mouth stuff was not there either. Asked by The New European ‘do you think the people who voted for Waters should quit the party?’ he calmly replied: ‘That is a choice for them and them alone.’
And asked whether UKIP had avoided becoming the ‘UK Nazi Party’, referring to comments he made in the campaign, he said: ‘Absolutely, yes.
‘I think the party has today voted for a leader who has been very open about what he feels is the way forward, and that’s myself of course.’
Afterwards Nigel Farage, the former leader and for many members’ UKIP demigod, said he was ‘delighted’.
‘He is untested in frontline politics but he has impressive service with the police and military,’ he said. ‘I think he will be an excellent leader for the party.’
Quizzed about whether he would have a role in Bolton’s UKIP he added: ‘Perhaps not a formal one but I am very happy to help him out.’
So, for all intents and purposes it is as you were for UKIP. In the bar afterwards members – yes, in tweed – sunk pints and dashed out for the odd ciggie in honour of the man they would still love to be at the helm: Farage.
One, unwilling to give his name to a ‘anti-Brexit rag’ like The New European said jovially: ‘If Nigel won’t do it then Henry is a great second best.’
And the main issue facing the party under their new leader? ‘Leaving the EU. The fight is not over yet.’