STOKE-ON-TRENT, England — For hundreds of years, this small-scale city in England’s industrial north has been synonymous with pottery — colorful plates, bowls and tiles fired by workers in the heat of the local kilns and sold in fine ceramics shops the world over.
Rob Ford, a University of Manchester political scientist who co-wrote a book on UKIP, said that Stoke, with its high concentration of white, working-class and less-educated voters, is exactly the sort of seat UKIP has long coveted.
“On paper, it’s an area where UKIP should do well,” he said.
But paradoxically, its success in pushing Britain toward Brexit — and Prime Minister Theresa May’s insistence on following through on UKIP demands for a clean break with Europe — may have blunted the party’s appeal. By promising to deliver on UKIP’s core demand, May and her ruling Conservative Party have co-opted the anger that fed last year’s referendum vote, at least for the time being.
“The large dissatisfied and distrustful element is still out there. It’s just that they’re unusually happy right now,” Ford said. “They won’t stay that way for too long.”