IT’S time for the yearly dose of “celebrity” rehabilitation through humiliation. You may be aware that this year’s line-up for ITV’s I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here, features former Ukip leader and professional rabble-rouser Nigel Farage.

He is this year’s villainous pick, following in the footsteps of disgraced former health secretary Matt Hancock last year.

Like Hancock, Farage will be hoping he can win over the public by showing the real person behind the personality. Although, unlike Hancock, we shouldn’t expect Farage to try to showcase a softer, sanitised version of himself in order to gain new fans.

Instead, his strategy will involve going heavy on the pint-swilling, Jack-the-lad persona so many of his male, middle-aged supporters seem to enjoy so much.

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Farage will reportedly pocket £1.5 million for his appearance, making him the highest-paid contestant ever to appear on the show. ITV will be expecting its money’s worth when voting opens for the infamous Bushtucker Trials.

We can expect to see Farage chomping down on a kangaroo testicle and downing pints of frog spawn. We can expect him to feature in a number of the challenges, as all the contestants who garner a love/hate reaction with the viewing public do.

In this, Farage will secure the airtime he covets so dearly. Aside from the hefty pay check, this is his motivating factor in agreeing to appear on the show.

The timing is certainly interesting. It can’t be the first occasion on which Farage has been offered big bucks to do I’m A Celeb.

He has been a well-known, well-loathed figure in UK politics for more than a decade.

The National: Nigel Farage

In his last interview before heading down under, Farage teased that he might be interested at having another go at becoming an MP at some point. He has thus far racked up seven failed attempts, so what makes him think that it would be eighth time lucky?

The answer to that could perhaps be found in the warm reception Farage enjoyed at this year’s Conservative Party conference. Much was made of the rock-star welcome he got from the delegates in attendance – which overshadowed the appearance of many party bigwigs.

On yesterday’s The Sunday Show, Martin Geissler asked Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross about a prediction made by Alastair Campbell that Farage would lead the Conservative Party one day.

Ross was keen to play down this suggestion and referenced the fact that Farage had been a thorn in the side of the party for many years. The path to the former Ukip leader taking the Tory leadership would certainly be a difficult one, given he is not even a party member, let alone an MP. But the prospect is perhaps not as implausible as it once was.

As things stand, the next General Election is set to have a systemic impact on the make-up of UK politics. Unless something drastic happens in the next year, the Conservatives could be facing the kind of electoral humiliation that would have a lasting impact on the party.

A lot depends on the Tory MPs who do manage to cling on to their seats. If the majority of figures that emerge from the rubble are of the hard-right, Suella Braverman, loony fringe persuasion, then a future where Farage is welcomed and promoted within the party doesn’t look so far-fetched. Long-game politics is always notoriously difficult and it is especially so now, as we muddle through post-Brexit, post-Covid uncertainty and recalibration.

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If the Conservatives do experience electoral oblivion and a reckoning at the next election then there are a few routes the party might take to try to get back on to winning territory.

The first is to embark on a period of sombre, considered, self-reflection. As they re-group, they will need to look honestly at the multitude of failures and wrong-headed priorities that brought them to that point. It would be a slow, painful process, as they tried to claw themselves back towards something resembling a prospective party of government.

Alternatively, they might go for option two – where they hit the big red button and accelerate their populist, hard-right, culture-war agenda. They might put on steroids their plan to appeal to the worst impulses of their voters.

In this, they would do everything they are doing now, but without the pretence of reasonableness. In practice, this would involve anti-immigration rhetoric without the faux upper-middle-class politeness. It would involve soundbites that make “stop the boats” seem tame in comparison.

In short, this strategy would look a lot like everything Farage has been saying and doing for more than a decade, making him the perfect fit for a party that cares more about self-serving division than responsible politics.