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“The time has come,” the voters said, “To talk of many things: Of borders - boats and seaside spats - Of Farage's – and things - Why election has caught fire - And whether pigs have wings.”

With sincere apologies to Lewis Carroll for lacerating my favourite childhood poem. We are about to find out whether pigs have wings and if they do, whether they’ll get said swine off the ground (unlike the flights to Rwanda).

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of the Conservative party? Are Reform about to break through the first-past-the-post brick wall?

Will Reform become the true opposition – not the Opposition - to Labour? Like nearly everyone else, including many Conservatives, I am assuming the polls are right, that Labour will win and win big.

For now, we are faced with many known unknowns: what lessons will the Conservative Party take from the impending electoral disaster; how many Tories, and which ones, will be gracing the green benches after 4 July; who will they offer to party members to choose from to become leader; what direction will the new leader head in - down the middle, to the left or to the right; will Labour make an initial fist of it or quickly mess up; if Nigel Farage is elected, will he be alone and what will he be saying on non-immigration issues?

Mr Farage’s flash-flood arrival on the election stage has certainly invigorated a campaign laced with tedium and mediocrity, capped on Tuesday night by a vacuous TV debate replete with puerile jibes.

Between now and 4 July, I wager Rishi Sunak will thresh about in ever greater desperation, Sir Keir Starmer will do his utmost to say as little as possible, Sir Ed Davey will struggle to attract attention, and the Greens will be praying they can hold onto Caroline Lucas’s seat and perhaps win another.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage will be the nuisance he has promised to be and invigorate an otherwise lifeless campaign. He will also be the only party leader talking about the issue so many of the electorate want discussed – immigration and how to get it down from its current catastrophic levels.

Farage’s entry into parliament at the eighth time of asking, and I do believe he will do it this time, will be the critical difference between the looming disastrous defeat for the Tories and the one they suffered at the hands of Sir T. Blair 27 years ago.

Any Labour majority of 100+ (T. Blair’s was an overall majority of 177) will give a Starmer government scope to do pretty much anything they want, including make deals with the EU on asylum, border control and the movement of people.

They will do very little to constrain legal immigration, let alone reduce it. Net migration will continue at current levels for years to come, as will illegal Channel crossings. There will be no resiling from the ECHR or repealing of the Human Rights Act. An amnesty for those here illegally or without leave will surely follow under the guise of temporary leave because removal is impossible.

Remember, annual net migration of 600,000 a year will lead to a population increase of 20 million people by 2046, while even annual net migration of 350,000 a year (I doubt it will come down to anywhere near this in the foreseeable future) will lead to a population increase of 9 million people by 2046, while the proportional decline of the native British population will continue apace.

It is from this part of the political landscape - relations with the EU and immigration - that Mr Farage’s clarion calls to disaffected Tories, to come and join the party will be clearly heard. It is also from where the most vocal opposition and trenchant criticism of the Starmer government will come.

I expect Mr Farage to consolidate his party’s position in a 2028/29 election. In the meantime, he will call out both Tories and Labour for not caring or being serious about reducing net migration to well below 100,000 (he is saying net zero).

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The Conservative Party won’t disappear after 4 July, however calamitous the result. But the task of surviving to rebuild the party in the wake of a landslide defeat will be so much more difficult with Nigel Farage MP amid the walking wounded in the House of Commons.

Besides which, a broken Conservative Party Central Office and demoralised associations around the country will need major surgery before rebuilding can begin. In Canada’s 1993 election, much of the ruling party’s (PC - the Progressive Conservative Party) support transferred to the ‘Reform Party’, which had totally failed in the 1988 election only to win 52 seats in 1993. PC’s hefty 169 seats dwindled to 2.

The PC never recovered and in 2003 merged with Reform, which had changed its name to ‘Canadian Alliance’. It had taken 20 years for PC to die.

But die, it did. The Tories will win many fewer seats on 4 July than in 2019. If they end up with a double-digit number of MPs, they will be facing an existential threat, for sure. The question is, will they be on the road to recovery by the next election? And the answer to that is: not if Nigel (X-factor) Farage has anything to do with it.

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