It must have seemed too good to be true for the Tories as a defeated Nigel Farage confirmed he would stick to his promise to resign as Ukip leader, having failed in his seventh attempt to enter parliament.

Not only had Farage lost in South Thanet by almost 2,000 votes, but Ukip lost one of its two seats to the Tories and failed to take any of its targets, which had included Castle Point, Boston, Great Yarmouth, Thurrock and Aylesbury.

Ukip aides attributed this to a severe squeeze on their older, right-leaning vote as supporters took fright at David Cameron’s warnings of an SNP-Labour alliance.

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