Sketch: Farage enjoying his Great Escape

THERE WAS no shortage of metaphors for the state of the Ukip campaign as Nigel Farage brought his open top bus tour to South Yorkshire.

Nigel Farage ducks to avoid low-hanging branches as his open-top bus makes its way through Sheffield. Picture: Scott Merrylees

From the grey clouds which literally rained on Mr Farage’s parade, to the bus running aground as it tried to leave the car park of the Thorpe Hesley Cricket Club it was as if the political gods had decided sketchwriters deserved an easy day.

If that was not enough, it turned out the same bus was used for Torvill and Dean’s victory lap following their 1984 Winter Olympics triumph begging the question, is Farage himself skating on thin ice?

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And as the bus lurched towards Chapeltown, Mr Farage had to take urgent evasive action to avoid being decapitated by trees overhanging the road.

Nigel Farage ducks to avoid low-hanging branches as his open-top bus makes its way through Sheffield. Picture: Scott Merrylees

It was all grim signs for a campaign that exists largely as a vehicle for Mr Farage to have an impact on this referendum campaign having been sidelined by the official Vote Leave group.

But despite all the bleak symbolism it was hard to experience the Ukip referendum bus tour and come to any other conclusion that Mr Farage is thoroughly enjoying himself.

His response to his head almost being permanently removed from his shoulders was a laugh and “only in Ukip, only in Ukip”.

Off the bus he lurched straight into a debate with customers outside the Wagon and Horses before making his way through the town walking into shops, signing autographs and talking to drivers of cars as they slowed to catch a glimpse the Ukip leader.

Nigel Farage ducks to avoid low-hanging branches as his open-top bus makes its way through Sheffield. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Having last year given every sign of feeling seriously aggrieved at being marginalised in the referendum debate he has long worked to secure, Mr Farage has now embraced the freedom not being tied to the official campaign has given him.

Not only is he running the campaign he wants to, he will also represent the Leave side of the debate in one of the live TV events to be staged in the coming weeks.

Ukip’s theme music is The Great Escape. Mr Farage seems to be enjoying his escape from the mainstream Leave campaign.