While Tim Farron is virtually unknown outside the United Kingdom and hardly a household name within the country, the Leader of the minority Liberal Democrat Party has a smile on his face these days.
Since the referendum in favour of leaving the European Union last month, the party has signed up 15,000 new members — at one point its head office was handing one inquiry every minute — and has seen swings to it of up to 30 per cent in a number of admittedly minor local government by-elections.
The Liberal Democrats, popularly known as the Lib-Dems, is the only UK political party that has remained resolutely pro-European throughout its history, and after the referendum resulted in a narrow 3.9 per cent majority for leaving the EU, Farron described it as a lost battle – not a lost war.
His pledge to continue to campaign against Brexit, promising that a future Liberal Democrat Government would seek to restore the UK’s membership, has struck a chord, both with disillusioned pro-EU supporters and not a few who are having second thoughts about their vote to leave.
As the Conservatives continue to be divided between Brexit and Remain supporters and Labour is in a state of chaos over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Farron has said that while the outcome of the referendum has to be respected, voters should know the Lib-Dems remain committed to the EU and would continue to have a platform dedicated to re-joining.
“For many millions of people, the referendum was not a vote to leave Europe, it was a howl of anger at politicians and institutions that they felt were out of touch and let them down,” Mr Farron said.
“The British people deserve the chance not to be stuck with the appalling consequences of a Leave campaign that stoked that anger with the lies of Farage, Johnson and Gove.
“The Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear promise to restore British prosperity and its role in the world with the UK in the European Union, not out.
“If you agree with us, join us to make this happen.”
At first sight this seems a long shot. The Lib-Dems have just eight MPs in the 650-member House of Commons, down from more than 50 after voters punished them for keeping the Conservatives in power as the junior partner in a coalition between 2010 and 2015.
The latest surge in their popularity would see the party regain that lost ground and possibly more if an election were to be held now.
Of course, one is not due until 2020 and new Prime Minister Theresa May has said the Government will serve its full term. However, given the current volatile state of UK politics, that is a brave statement.