If politicians ignore voters don't be surprised by what comes next, says STEPHEN POLLARD

But anyone from the two traditional parties who looks at the Brexit Party's rise from nowhere over the past few weeks and thinks all will be well for them if and when we do finally leave the EU is living in cloud cuckoo land. Just as the 2016 referendum result wasn't just about leaving the EU, so the rise of the Brexit Party is about far more than Brexit. In 2016, voters delivered a giant two-finger salute to the political establishment – of which its determination to lead us ever deeper into EU integration without any consent from the public was just one, albeit very large, component.

On Thursday, voters will send the same message.

And politicians' failure to deliver Brexit will again be just one component.

More broadly, our two mainstream parties are no longer capable of either expressing popular sentiment nor behaving – if in government – in a way which commands widespread support.

Labour is now run by a leader whose world view is based on a fringe extremism that has no place in democratic politics and who is widely believed to be an anti-Semite.

Far from capitalising on Labour's collapse into extremism and offering a vehicle for voters who want stability and prosperity, the Conservatives have spent Mrs May's entire time as leader fighting each other and ignoring the basics of government.

There is, at the moment, not a single convincing reason for anyone to vote Conservative.

Voters are angry at being ignored, with their democratically expressed views on Brexit being treated with contempt and angry at the self-indulgence of both parties which behave as if the needs of voters are an inconvenient distraction from their political machinations.

No wonder a new party, with the simple message of honouring the 2016 referendum result, is doing so well.

But we can see on the Continent where this can lead.

The political circumstances vary across the EU but there is a trend now for extremist parties to grow and prosper.

And they do so for the same reason – because voters see their own mainstream parties as out of touch and out of ideas.

In Germany, the AfD (Alternative for Germany) is a rehashed version of the other recent far-Right parties which have never before been able to turn themselves into mass movements.

The AfD is now attracting support around 13 to 14 percent – hugely significant under proportional representation – and shows the mass anger at the main parties.

In Austria, a coalition between the conservatives and the Freedom Party – which has explicit Nazi roots and outright fascists among its upper echelons – has just collapsed after the latter's leader was caught in a video sting offering deals to a woman posing as a Russian oligarch's niece.

In Italy, Matteo Salvini is Deputy Prime Minister – and leader of the Northern League, which embraces hard-Right ideas and looks to Vladimir Putin as a role model.

The Spanish Vox party, Fidesz in Hungary and the French Front National (now renamed National Rally to mask its far-Right ethos) are all on the rise.

This should all serve as a dire warning of what happens when voters are treated with contempt.

Idiotically, some commentators have tried to portray the Brexit Party as also far-Right.

It is not – it's an expression of voter anger.

The danger is not it, but what comes next.

Nigel Farage's latest vehicle has emerged because there is a political vacuum.

What is happening on the Continent shows us that there are far-Right parties which, in the absence of capable mainstream parties, can move from the fringes to power.

The genius of the British political system has always been to neutralise the far Right and the far Left.

Now one of our main parties has been captured by the far Left and the collapse of the Conservatives has opened up a space which will, somehow, be filled.

The question is who will fill it. There is still time – just – for the Tories to return under a new leader to their historic purpose of sound government and serious reform.

But if they do not, we should all fear what will come next.

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