Nigel Farage pledges to deliver UK into promised land of bankruptcy

Just don’t ask the snake-oil chancer and Annunziata to name any actual policies

To lose one official before your party has even been launched may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness. Last month, Catherine Blaiklok, the designated leader of Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party, was forced to stand down for making Islamophobic comments and retweeting a neo-Nazi. Then the treasurer, Michael McGough, who quit after antisemitic tweets he posted were uncovered. Say what you like, but you can’t accuse the Brexit party of not offering equal opportunities in racism.

At the party’s official launch, at a metal finishing factory under the M6 on the outskirts of Coventry, a tanned and disturbingly healthy-looking Nigel Farage was keen to let bygones be bygones as he basked in his coronation as leader.

No more Mr Nice Guy,” Farage declared. No great revelation, as there never had been one. Nige had just been minding his own business, hoovering up cash on the far-right chat show circuit in the US, appearing alongside racist conspiracy theorists, when his country came calling. “Oh, I couldn’t possibly, but if you insist.” Brexit was being betrayed by politicians, business and – er, the trade unions – and he was the saviour who was going to deliver the UK into the promised land of bankruptcy. His messiah complex is quite strong.

This was to be a new start, a time for the British people to rise up against the career politicians. Said the career politician, who had been bankrolled by Brussels as an MEP for 20 years, had tried and failed to get elected seven times to Westminster and was now heading up his second political party. Farage has never been one to let a spot of cognitive dissonance get in the way of the enjoyment of his self-image. Neither have his supporters. The collective delusion of Nigel as a man who gives a toss about the people has worked just fine for them all.

The British people were lions being led by donkeys. What the country was crying out for was a snake-oil chancer who had just dropped into the bookies to put £1,000 on the Brexit party winning the most seats in the May European elections. People should just sit back, vote for him and enjoy the ride. He had no policies because, well, policies were the sort of thing that establishment career politicians cared about. He was here to offer a dream. A dream of a nostalgic return to the 1950s, when Britain was still just about hanging on to its empire. The independence of a failed state.

But this wasn’t all about Nigel. Not entirely, anyway. Having lapped up the attention and the applause of the 100 or so people in the audience – if there was no crowd he still couldn’t be entirely certain if he really existed – Farage promised to introduce us to the stellar candidates who would be representing the Brexit party in the May elections. Candidates whose qualities would far exceed those of all their rivals from the political elites.

Step forward the shiniest star, Annunziata Rees-Mogg. To be fair, she doesn’t quite have the affected Edwardian upper-class tones of her brother, Jacob, but her posh country accent doesn’t really mark her out as a woman to set her disaffected people free. “I come in sadness,” she insisted, though she actually sounded rather chipper about her trip to the Midlands. Like Nigel and Jacob, she too is a career politician who can’t resist any passing microphone. She’s just a failed career politician, having been unable to get elected to Westminster even when handed a very winnable seat in the West Country by the Conservatives.

Nancy, as David Cameron liked to call her, turned out to not have much to say, either. But then the Brexit party isn’t actually for anything, other than to channel a sense of frustration. If they were ever called on to deliver on the fantasies of a no-deal Brexit, Farage and Stigmata would be the first out the door in horror. You wouldn’t see them for dust. Still, Nigel was right about something. The underwhelming Rees-Mogg was slightly more impressive than the other prospective candidates, one of whom was adamant that British fish wanted to be eaten by British people and ripped up her prepared speech in protest at her own mediocrity.

The presentations over, Farage took centre-stage again for a few questions. How was Brexit any different from Ukip? Nigel put on his sincere face. While it was true that they basically shared the same policies – as in they didn’t have any – Ukip had turned out to be a racist organisation. And he was having none of that. Oh no. Anything he might have said about immigration in the past, including the openly racist poster of the referendum campaign, had merely been aberrations.

He was a changed man. Someone who just wanted to do the best for his country. None of this was about him. He hated having to be dragged back into the limelight. But duty called. Believe that and you’ll believe anything.


John Crace

The GuardianTramp

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