The UK Independence Party (UKIP /ˈjuːkɪp/) is a Eurosceptic, right-wing populist political party in the United Kingdom. The party reached its greatest level of success in the mid-2010s, when it gained two members of Parliament and was the largest party representing the UK in the European Parliament. The party is currently led by Neil Hamilton.
UKIP originated as the Anti-Federalist League, a single-issue Eurosceptic party established in London by Alan Sked in 1991. It was renamed UKIP in 1993, but its growth remained slow. It was largely eclipsed by the Eurosceptic Referendum Party until the latter's 1997 dissolution. In 1997, Sked was ousted by a faction led by Nigel Farage, who became the party's preeminent figure. In 2006, Farage officially became leader and, under his direction, the party adopted a wider policy platform and capitalised on concerns about rising immigration, in particular among the White British working class. This resulted in significant breakthroughs at the 2013 local elections, 2014 European Parliamentary elections, and 2015 general election. The pressure UKIP exerted on the government contributed to the 2016 referendum which led to the UK's commitment to withdraw from the European Union. Farage then stepped down as UKIP leader, later joining the Brexit Party. UKIP subsequently saw its vote share and membership heavily decline, losing almost all of its elected representatives amid much internal instability and a drift toward a far-right, anti-Islam message.
Ideologically positioned on the right wing of British politics, UKIP is characterised by political scientists as a right-wing populist party. UKIP's primary emphasis has been on Euroscepticism, calling for the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (EU). It promotes a British unionist and British nationalist agenda, encouraging a unitary British identity in opposition to growing Welsh and Scottish nationalisms. Political scientists have argued that in doing so, it conflates Britishness with Englishness and appeals to English nationalist sentiment. UKIP has also placed emphasis on lowering immigration, rejecting multiculturalism, and opposing what it calls the "Islamification" of Britain. Influenced by Thatcherism and classical liberalism, it describes itself as economically libertarian and promotes liberal economic policies. On social issues such as LGBT rights, education policy, and criminal justice it is traditionalist. Having an ideological heritage stemming from the right-wing of the Conservative Party, it distinguishes itself from the mainstream political establishment through heavy use of populist rhetoric, for instance through Farage's description of its supporters as the "People's Army".
Governed by its leader and National Executive Committee, UKIP is divided into twelve regional groups. A founding member of the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe European political party, most of UKIP's MEPs sat with the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament. While gaining electoral support from various sectors of British society, psephologists established that at its height, UKIP's primary voting base consisted of older, working-class white men living in England. UKIP has faced a critical reception from mainstream political parties, much of the media, and anti-fascist groups. Its discourse on immigration and cultural identity generated accusations of racism and xenophobia, both of which it denies.