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After Theresa May’s self-own and UKIP’s humiliation, is the global right in retreat?


Thursday’s UK elections were momentous for the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn and an immense self-own for Theresa May. But it was also disastrous for Britain’s far-right pro-Brexit party, UKIP, which holds no seats and received less than 2 percent of the vote, down from the 12.6 percent it received under Nigel Farage’s leadership in 2015. Paul Nuttall, the party’s current leader, resigned immediately, having himself embarrassingly finished third in the seat he was running for, receiving only 3,300 votes. As a party, UKIP is now essentially non-existent. Interestingly, UKIP voters, who many cast as disaffected tories, were expected to mainly return to the Conservative Party. But the vote was actually more fragmented—in some seats, both Labour and Tories benefited equally from former UKIP voters.

Only last month, in France’s elections, the far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen was squarely defeated by centrist Emmanuel Macron. To date, Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidency is by far the most successful the far-right has been in cementing electoral victory in the West. After the UK election, we have more evidence that the far-right “populist” surge is ebbing.

There is, of course, the danger of reading too much into the tea leaves. Le Pen still won a record of nearly 11 million votes and the National Front still remains a force in France, despite the fact that the party seems to be on the downslide. Theresa May has announced that she will continue to try to move forward with Brexit by forming a coalition with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. Nigel Farage is now threatening a return to politics if Brexit is imperiled. For now, it seems, Trump has the distinction of having captured the most power of any far-right candidate across the world. But his victory increasingly looks like a cautionary tale for the rest of the world.