BXP's Farage claims Boris' Brexit deal 'doesn't get Brexit done'...announces support anyway
On 11 November at a rally in Hartlepool, Brexit party leader Nigel Farage revealed his (latest) election strategy to the British public. Despite lamenting three and a half years of Brexit delay and expressing grave concerns and criticisms of Boris Johnson’s current deal (‘…it doesn’t get Brexit done…’) Farage explained that his party will not be challenging any of the 317 seats won by the Conservatives at the last general election.
Farage and his party believe that if they field 600 candidates in the snap election, scheduled for 12 December, the likely result will be a hung parliament heavy with Remainers along with substantial gains for the Liberal Democrat party, particularly in the South of the country.
A ‘party political broadcast’ displayed prominently on the homepage of the Brexit party website, however, makes it clear that Farage is backtracking on a history of open contempt for the Conservative party and for Johnson’s Brexit deal.
The narrative of the footage poses two key questions:
i. Why hasn’t Brexit happened yet?
ii. Will it happen at all?
Despite a successful exit from the EU being critical to the UK’s democracy, economy and freedom, the narrator explains that the Conservative government has let down the British public by, so far, failing to execute what 17.4 million of us voted for in the 2016 referendum.
The film goes on the state that despite every MP being elected in 2017 on the proviso that they would respect the referendum result, parliament keeps blocking Brexit.
What sort of a democracy lets parliament defy the people?’ the voice over asks, pointing out that, as PM, Johnson has told the EU that his priority is delivering a deal based on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement – despite stating that the same agreement would make the UK a ‘slave state’ during his time as foreign minister.
The Brexit party describe May’s deal as being ‘more like a surrender after losing a war’ going on to describe Johnson’s current Brexit deal as ‘Mrs May’s deal with a new haircut’ and ‘the worst deal in history.’
It is this very deal that Farage’s recent actions will support should the Conservatives win the election with a majority vote – despite the film ending with the Brexit party insisting that they are the only political party equipped to offer a ‘clean break Brexit.’
In his Hartlepool speech, Farage insisted he has ‘no great love for the Conservative party at all’ but appeared to contradict criticism of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal by expressing a desire to give the UK pm ‘half a chance’ in the upcoming election in order to ‘stop the fanatics in the Liberal Democrat party who want to revoke the result of the referendum.’
Calling the arrangement with the Conservatives a ‘leave alliance,’ Farage smugly congratulated the two for putting country before party and fighting Labour as a united force. The former UKIP leader also claimed that his actions had sprung from one basic desire – to prevent a second referendum at any cost (even if this means colluding with the enemy and risking accusations or hypocrisy for revoking previous passionately made claims.)
It’s true that if Johnson doesn’t achieve a clear majority in the upcoming election it’s likely that the Labour Party and remain-backing parties in parliament will take this opportunity to oppose his plans to deliver Brexit (events that have replayed time and again during negotiations.) Farage’s claims of optimism and confidence in Johnson’s recent reassurances that Brexit would occur by the end of 2020 without question, however, fail to ring true. Neither does his newfound claim to feel reassured by Johnson’s promise to build a trade deal for the UK without political alignments, something he referred to in his speech on Monday as a ‘change of direction that sounds like the Brexit we voted for.’
Despite vehemently insisting that his party have weighed up the risk of allowing the Lib Dems to make huge gains in the election with the possibility that Johnson will fail to deliver Brexit by the end of 2020, as promised, Farage’s actions in recent days go against almost everything he has insisted over the history of his own party.
During a parliamentary session in June 2019, Farage told the Conservative party
‘We will fight you in every seat up and down the length of the United Kingdom.’
And earlier this month, the Brexit party leader repeated this promise, vowing to contest every single seat across Britain if Johnson did not ditch his withdrawal deal and enter a ‘leave alliance’ with the BXP (a deal that Farage now appears to be endorsing by supporting the Conservatives with their election bid.)
If Farage’s protestations of honourable intent are to be believed, the Brexit party have changed their entire election policy without any consultation with the government and on trust that Johnson will keep his word and remove the UK from the EU within 12 months or bust (something the Conservative government has categorically failed to do, despite several deadlines being put in place since the referendum.)
If the decision was made based on a few public statements with no private evidence whatsoever – we must question Farage’s judgement. If not, the Brexit party leader is clearly concealing something from the public.
Some believe that there have been backroom dealings between Farage and Johnson. In a strange twist, Farage claims that Johnson’s Conservative government offered him a peerage just days before he made the announcement that his candidates would be standing down. The Brexit party leader claims he immediately turned down this ‘ridiculous’ offer, stating:
‘They thought they could buy me, a high-paid job; but I'm not interested, I don't want to know.’
Farage has strenuously denied that he was offered this peerage in exchange for stepping aside, claiming the decision had been made prior to and completely independent of the offer. ‘#LordFarage’ has been trending on Twitter in recent days, as users of the social media site mock the Brexit party leader.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has gone on record in recent days stating that he believes Farage’s U-turn has been made to form an alliance between himself, President Trump and Boris Johnson, a ‘sweetheart trade deal with the US’ that he claimed would threaten all of our regulations, conditions and services.
Corbyn went on to say that such a deal would threaten the NHS, our rights at work, our right to a clean environment and our right to safe food and asserted that Labour ‘Will have none of it.’
Trump’s infamous phone call to Farage’s radio program in early November, weighing in on Brexit and the upcoming election, supports Corbyn’s allegations. In an unprecedented interview that’s since been heavily criticised as open interference in the UK’s upcoming election, President Trump stated that while the US wants to forge a new trade deal with the UK, the terms of Johnson’s current Brexit deal would categorically prevent this.
Trump also suggested that Farage and Johnson should bring their parties together to form an ‘unstoppable force.’
‘I would like to see you and Boris get together…’ said Trump to Farage,
‘Because you would really have some numbers.’
Farage’s announcement last week appears to have made Trump’s dreams come true, despite Boris Johnson repeatedly ruling out any prospect of an electoral allegiance with the Brexit Party (…the Conservative Party is the oldest and greatest political party in the world. It’s a big, broad church and we don’t do deals with the help of other parties.)
Not only has Farage exposed himself as a hypocrite through contradictory and inconsistent messages and policy swerves, his decision to stand down more than half of his candidates has also prompted fury and created division within his own party, with one member claiming he only learned the news when a passing driver asked him while he was still on the streets campaigning for his seat.
Darren Selkus, the candidate for Epping Forest, said Farage had “…betrayed my incredible volunteers and thousands of constituents who will have no one to vote for…” by pulling out of all 317 Conservative-held seats. In a statement on his local party website, Selkus also said that as soon as Farage made the announcement, he and other ex-candidates were immediately locked out of their Brexit party emails and supporter databases.
Although a registered political party, the Brexit party is structured as a company with Farage and chair Richard Tice having near-total control. Those who pay the party’s £25 joining fee become ‘registered supporters’ rather than members, meaning that they have no say over policy or other matters within the party. This arrangement is a convenient one for Farage who doesn’t have to consult with his own party before making even the biggest decisions with the most wide-reaching implications.
In fact, each potential candidate was asked to pay a fee of £100 to be considered as a Brexit Party MP with over 3500 people making an application (netting the party over £350,000.) Many potential candidates were rejected without being given a reason and only those who complained or questioned the party’s motivation were eventually offered an interview.
It would appear that the Brexit party’s treatment of their own members is on a par with their disrespect for the British public.
(Written by Rowan Martin & edited by Michael O’Sullivan)