What on Earth is Nigel Farage up to?

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BY CHARLOTTE GILL

As December rolls up, almost everyone can sense that this general election is going to be one of the tightest and most toxic of recent decades – with the stakes terrifyingly high.

Jeremy Corbyn and his army of piranha socialists look closer than ever to destroying our economy with their infantile policies, many of which would leave “the few” fleeing the country, and “the many” jobless.

The Conservatives need everything in their might to get through.

With that in mind, what on earth is Nigel Farage up to?

Yesterday the Brexit Party leader unveiled plans for 600 of his MPs to stand in the general election, saying that the current Withdrawal Agreement was “not Brexit” and accusing Boris Johnson of being “arrogant” for refusing an election pact.

The only one being arrogant and deluded in all this, though, is Farage, whose quest for power will achieve nothing, other than giving Corbyn a fantastic boost.

Worse still, Farage would ruin Brexit. Take yesterday’s poll of voting intention in Portsmouth South. It predicted that the Brexit Party would get 14 percent of the share, leaving Conservatives with 27 percent and the Liberal Democrats victorious, with a lead of 30 percent. This cancelling out effect would be devastating for the Tories, who simply want to honour democracy.

Farage will not, in any sense, get what he wants out of fielding candidates, ending up with a minority – quite possibly, no – influence in parliament, and going down in history as the man who started and then stopped Brexit.

It should be said he is undoubtedly one of the most savvy communicators and strategists in politics. But unless someone has missed something secretly genius about this plan, it’s only effect is splintering Brexit votes. He will never get the No Deal he is after.

Ultimately, it feels a bit late for Farage to complain that the Brexit deal is insufficient. He had his chance to put forward ideas for what Leave looked like in 2016 onwards. He may not be an MP, but he could have at least drawn up something feasible for the parties to consider.

When the result went through, however, Farage seemed to think that his work was done, swanning off for a pint with Trump, all the while civil servants spent anti-social hours trying to construct a vision.

Realising that Brexit was not going as well as intended, Farage eventually formed the Brexit Party. Its existence has served an important function, reminding everyone in the EU elections that sentiment for Leave is still high.

But that’s about as far as it goes, and in an ideal world the party should stop there. Not only because it will divide the Leave vote, but the Brexit Party doesn’t seem to have a feasible vision for Britain. Having gone to one of its rallies, I was deeply unimpressed by the amount of slogans, which seemed to be a substitute for substance. Farage has even proudly rejected putting together a manifesto, instead inventing random pledges such as giving everyone free Wi-Fi.

And the party has become part of a wider issue with Brexit, which is that there are too many stakeholders in the process, from parliamentarians to Gina Miller to Change UK. The lack of consolidation and consensus is not only destroying democracy, but stifling our parliament. Britain has never been more desperate for a majority.

But Farage is going to persist. So what can Johnson do? He is clearly desperate to do the honourable thing and avoid an alliance, but at the same time Remainers are co-ordinating collaborative strategies with no such qualms. If possible, the electorate will forgive Boris Johnson some kind of formal or informal pact with The Brexit Party, but Corbyn in number 10? No.

Charlotte Gill is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The Mail on Sunday, The Times and The Telegraph. Follow her on twitter: @CharlotteCGill


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