THERE is something richly ironic in the anti-immigration Ukip falling apart internally over accusations of Islamophobia. The party’s foreign spokesman, Jim Carver, has just resigned over manifesto pledges of his leader, Paul Nuttall, including outlawing the burqa, banning Sharia courts and compelling girls to take tests for female genital mutilation (FGM). Aaron Banks, the millionaire Ukip donor, accused his leader of launching a “war against the Muslim religion”.

This must be very confusing for crypto-racists and Islamophobes in general. I mean, if Ukip isn’t conducting a war against Muslim culture what is it there for? We can’t have them going all multicultural on us. Under its hyper-active former leader, Nigel Farage, Ukip famously became the British National Party in suits. Well, where is your properly-attired British nationalist to go now?

Actually, the Nuttall manifesto was itself an attempt to come to terms with these liberal times by reconciling gender equality with nativism. Hence taking up the issue of FGM, which the NSPCC has identified as a real problem in some immigrant communities. Comparing himself improbably with Mahatma Gandhi, Mr Nuttall told yesterday’s Wolverhampton Express that he was 10 years ahead of his time “raising issues of equality, women’s rights and FGM that other parties don’t want to tackle”. So, don’t call Ukip closet racists; they’re really social justice warriors. Right on, bro’.

Parties of the far right on the continent, like Marine Le Pen’s National Front, have made a great success of intersectionality, as such ideological cross-dressing is sometimes called. “Marine” has adopted so many leftist postures that the far left candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, has declined to call on his supporters to back her centre-left rival, Emmanuel Macron, in the French Presidential election run-off . Geert Wilders of the Dutch far right also make much of Muslim opposition to homosexuality. But this political gender-bending doesn’t do so well in the sceptical UK.

British voters can detect electoral hypocrisy a mile off. No one is going to buy Ukip as champions of gender equality and human rights. Its own senior party figures realise the manifesto is a transparent attempt to make Islamophobia acceptable. Hence the rush for the exits as the party plummets as low as four per cent in the latest IpsosMori opinion poll. Key figures, such as Douglas Carslaw, Ukip’s only MP, have defected back to the Conservative Party. Paul Nuttall has been under a cloud of bad publicity and could be the only party leader in modern history not to stand for his party at a general election.

So it looks as if this 2017 General Election is curtains for Ukip’s form of xenophobic nationalism which, it should be recalled, won nearly four million votes at the 2015 election. Paul Nuttall’s boast that Ukip was going to overtake Labour and become “the patriotic party of working people” now looks very empty indeed. Britain’s first past the post voting system makes it very difficult for small parties in Westminster elections. But the the main reason why Ukip is in the doldrums is because the UK Conservative Party has stolen its clothes.

There was little space for Ukip after British voters voted to leave the European Union. Brexit was their raison d’etre. There might have been an afterlife for the Nuttallites had Theresa May equivocated on hard Brexit, and sought to remain in the single market – but they got that too. In one sense, Ukip is a victim of its own success: the Tories, under Theresa May, are now Ukip in suits.

As we saw at yesterday’s interminable Prime Minister’s Question Time, the last for this parliament, Theresa May is steeling herself to be very much the Iron Lady 2. Her repetition of the phrase “strong and stable government” took listeners beyond the pain threshold. Clearly, her election adviser, Lynton Crosby, has told her to adopt the approach of the Vote Leave campaign – remember: “Take back control.” Voting Labour, according to Mrs May, would mean a “coalition of chaos with the SNP and the Liberal Democrats” – another phrase we will hear endlessly during this campaign. Jeremy Corbyn would “leave Britain defenceless” and deliver a “chaotic Brexit”. Why, Labour would leave Nato, disarm the police and abolish MI5.

It’s clear that the Brexit revolution, as many are calling it, really did move Britain to a new place, significantly to the right of the old David Cameron/Tony Blair centre ground. That attempt to wed economic liberalism to social liberalism has been abandoned in Britain favour of a revival of British nationalism. It is no exaggeration to describe this as xenophobia – you just need to listen to how UK politicians talk about the European Union as if it is an alien power seeking to “punish” Britain for Brexit. When migrants and benefit claimants are being routinely demonised by the Government, there’s just no need for Ukip.

However, this poses questions for the Scottish Conservative Party leader, Ruth Davidson, as she leads a significant revival of her party. She largely owes her success to the patronage of Mr Cameron, who saw in the articulate, gay ex-journalist a champion of pro-market liberalism who could really take the fight to Nicola Sturgeon. But Ms Davidson will find in this election campaign that she is now a representative of a very different kind of Conservatism from the one she’s used to.

The post-Ukip Tory Government is one that imposes a regressive two-child policy as part of an assault on welfare claimants which can only be described as brutal. On Tuesday, Ms Davidson couldn’t follow her instincts and oppose the rape clause because this would have been damaging to the UK party’s election campaign. Similarly, she’ll have to endorse hard Brexit, despite being a leading Remain supporter, and a whole range of right-wing policies including, possibly, the end of the pensions triple lock.

Ms Davidson has worked wonders to revive a has-been party whose average members are in their seventh decade. But there is only so long that she can continue to walk a liberal tight-rope. The Tories are polling exceptionally well right now in Scotland, not least because of Labour’s decline, and could be in line for 12 seats. Ms Davidson can’t adopt the May strategy of avoiding debates – she has to get stuck in. And as a representative of the Brexit Conservative Party she’s going to have to learn to speak the new Tory language. And Scottish voters may not like the sound of that.