Poor old Nigel Farage struggles to take back control in LBC phone-in | John Crace

Ukip boss obligingly does his country a favour by standing in for Katie Hopkins but callers spoil his fun with inconvenient facts

A sobbing Nigel Farage has told the Sunday Express that Brexit and the election of Donald Trump had made him fearful of going out. A prisoner of conscience in his own land, who was reluctantly thinking of applying for political asylum in America.

But before our tortured, misunderstood refugee finally stepped foot in the leaky dinghy to make the hazardous 3,000-mile journey to the land of the free, he wanted to do his country one last favour. He wanted to stand in for that other champion of democratic values, Katie Hopkins, and host her two-hour radio phone-in show on LBC.

“Good morning, 2016 has been a year of seismic shocks,” he began chirpily, sounding nothing like a man who was suffering from being a hostage in his own home and everything like the all-too-familiar Piers Morgan of politics. For a man who goes on and on about the entitlement of the political establishment, his own sense of entitlement is never far from the surface. It takes one to know one.

Nigel moved on to the big issue of the day. Himself. Some people had been calling for him to be the ambassador to the US, he said, conveniently forgetting that the person who had come up with this idiotic idea had been President-elect Donald Trump. Take back control. And then hand it back over to a narcissistic sociopath. That’s just what the country voted for.

“Look, I’m not saying I should be an ambassador,” he said, not very convincingly. Nigel is a master of the humble brag. “But I do think I could be a senior envoy.” Or pro-consul. “I know Donald Trump very well and I think he’s a good man. We should put behind us the things he said in the election campaign.” That would be the racism, homophobia and outright lies. “And concentrate on mending fences.” Or building walls.

“President Obama said we would be at the back of the queue for trade deals; Donald Trump has said we will be at the front.” That must be why he told Theresa May to drop in and see him if ever she was on vacation in Florida. Nigel had so much life to live, he had so much love to give, he couldn’t understand why Theresa hadn’t at least called him to ask how his meeting with the Don had gone. Not calling Nigel has been one of the few things the prime minister has got right in the last few weeks.

Having spent the first 10 minutes talking about himself, Nigel reluctantly allowed a few callers to have a say. First up was Jason from Sutton who announced that Brexit had been a total disaster so far, what with the level of debt increasing and the value of the pound falling. “That’s just not true,” Nigel declared firmly. “Sterling had been falling before the referendum.”

“It fell by 1% before the referendum and by 19% afterwards,” Jason pointed out.

Nigel wasn’t having that. It wasn’t part of his script. “Well even if sterling has fallen, I think it’s great news for Britain. I only wish it would fall even further. Brexit has been nothing but a triumph so all this talk of Britain falling off a cliff has been complete nonsense.” Jason was probably about to say that Britain hadn’t actually left the EU yet, so it was too early to say, but Nigel cut him off. Facts are so inconvenient during radio phone-ins.

Nigel Farage hands out Ferrero Rocher at Ritz party

Next up was Joe, who wanted to say that Nigel was the Messiah and he knew the EU was no good because a friend of his mum’s had been mugged in Italy. Nigel began to purr. This was more like it. “I’ve got a very important announcement to make just after 11 o’clock,” he said. “So make sure you’re still tuned in to hear it.”

It turned out that what Nigel wanted to say was that he was planning to go back to the US in a few weeks’ time and that if the government wanted him to drop in on Trump again he’d be happy to cosy up to him on the country’s behalf. “It sounds like you’re advertising yourself for the ambassador’s job after all,” a caller observed.

“No, no,” said Nigel. “All I’m saying is that I’m around if anyone needs me. I want to help. Now can we talk about what a shambles the political elite currently are by trying to overturn the will of the people by calling for a second referendum.”

“But you wrote in June that if remain won by 52% then there would need to be a second referendum,” said a caller.

Nigel wasn’t having this. He may have written it, but he hadn’t really meant anyone to think that was what he thought. “Can more people ring in to say how much they dislike Tony Blair, John Major and Tim Farron?” he begged. As it happened they couldn’t. Perhaps not that many people were listening.


John Crace

The GuardianTramp

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