Anti-EU leader Farage faces uncertain future in UK vote

Anti-EU leader Farage faces uncertain future in UK vote
UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

LONDON - Nigel Farage has turned the UK Independence Party (UKIP) into a national force but is battling for his future in Thursday's general election, with commentators saying he has run out of steam.

Rarely photographed without a pint of beer, the charismatic 51-year-old has said he will quit the party leadership "within 10 minutes" if he does not win the seat he is contesting.

Farage reminds UKIP's base of older, white, blue collar voters of a bygone era when the economy felt stronger, immigration was lower and Britain was great.

Anti-Brussels and anti-political correctness, Farage, who once compared ex-European Council president Herman Van Rompuy to a "damp rag", led UKIP to top the polls in last year's European Parliament elections.

Once dismissed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a party of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists", UKIP is defending two House of Commons seats and looks set to take tens of thousands of votes nationwide from the main parties.

The anti-European Union, anti-mass immigration party is running third in the polls at around 14 per cent.

But while his "people's army" could win a handful of seats nationally, that is unlikely to be enough for Farage to call the shots over a referendum on Britain leaving the EU.

Plain-speaking and populist, Farage was expected to triumph in the televised leaders' debates, but failed to shine, often cutting an isolated figure.

Farage has admitted he struggled at the start of the campaign, saying his health was hit by trying to do too many things.

He survived a plane crash while campaigning in the 2010 election and said he had been suffering back pain as he hit the campaign trail.

"Men are not always very good at looking at their health and I wasn't going to physio and treatment, and now I am, and I'm fine," he told the BBC on Sunday.

'Bloody-minded and difficult'

Farage was born in 1964 to an affluent family in Kent, southeast England. His father was a stockbroker and an alcoholic and his parents divorced when he was five.

He was educated at one of England's top private schools, Dulwich College in London, where he says his headmaster saw him as "bloody-minded and difficult".

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