At Hull Ionians RUFC on a soaking wet Thursday morning last month, chairs were swiftly removed from the back few rows of a Brexit party event. It did the trick. The curtained event space, usually reserved for weddings, suddenly went from looking half empty to almost full.
After the highs of the EU election campaign, when Nigel Farage’s party drew thousands to glitzy rallies, a swathe of empty chairs beneath a glitter ball might not be how he imagined his eighth general election campaign would pan out.
Still, the show goes on. Farage waited in the wings expressionless before exploding into life, striding down the gangway to his soundtrack of the party’s 2019 campaign, Power by Kanye West.
He vigorously shook the hands of those followers who had paid £2.50 to attend. “It’s great to be on stage in leave country,” he declared.
“I’m in the heart of a part of England that feels very, very let down by parliament, [the] political class. It’s three-and-a-half years on and we’ve still not got Brexit.”
Except he is in Haltemprice and Howden, the seat of the arch-Eurosceptic David Davis, a former Brexit secretary. Worse, it is not a seat the party is contesting. Running events a few miles into the wrong constituency is one of many hallmarks of a campaign that is now on life support.