The Rise of UKIP can probably be dated to 2009, but to understand the way in which UKIP has come to be the third force in British politics, it is necessary first to look back over the history of UKIP. Without a proper understanding of where UKIP has come from, it is impossible to understand where UKIP is going to. I must confess at this point that I did not join UKIP until early in 2011, so for this opening section I have relied on the memories of others and on the party records as well as newspaper cuttings and other sources.
What is known as the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP, or UKIP) began life in 1991 as the Anti-Federalist League. This was a cross-party campaigning group that was opposed to the Maastricht Treaty on European Union. That Maastricht Treaty transferred significant powers from the member states of the European Union (EU) to the EU itself, and significantly to the European Commission. The treaty was highly unpopular in the country as a whole, but the Conservative government of John Major was pledged to get it passed through Parliament. Given that both Labour and the LibDems supported the treaty, this seemed a foregone conclusion. There was a large minority of Conservative MPs who opposed the Treaty - Major would later famously refer to them as “bastards” - but while they could slow the Treaty down it was unlikely that they would be able to stop it. One of these “bastards”, incidentally, was Christopher Gill who later became a senior member of UKIP and was - many years after the Maastricht debacle - to become my mentor.
In this atmosphere Alan Sked, a lecturer at the London School of Economics and member of the Bruges Group, decided to take action. He declared that for all three big political parties to support a measure that the people did not want was undemocratic. The Anti Federalist League was initially started as a pressure group, but at the 1992 General Election it stood 20 candidates. All 20 got less than 5% of the vote and so lost their deposits.
In 1993 the Maastricht Treaty was passed by Parliament. Sked and other members of the Anti Federalist League met to decide their next move. They decided that they should found a political party dedicated to campaigning to take Britain out of the European Union. They decided to call it The United Kingdom Independence Party. Before long the party became known by its initials of UKIP (pronounced “you-kip”) and its members were dubbed “kippers”.
from "The Rise of UKIP" by Bill Etheridge MEP