Tuesday 12 November 2019

Nigel Farage has marched half his troops down the hill and implicitly backs Boris's deal

Thank God Nigel Farage has given up his decision that his Brexit Party “fight every seat in the country” and said that he would not be fighting the 317 seats held by the Conservatives. 

I wish very much he’d not fight any seats.

All Brexiteers must be grateful to him. Without him the Brexit referendum would not have happened and, had it happened, Leave would not have won. 

But he was very foolish initially to refuse to countenance Boris’s deal. 

He did so out of vanity, to a large extent, and now, out of vanity, he changes his mind because he wants to avoid humiliation. 

Candidates in large numbers had told him they would not stand. Polls showed his party haemorrhaging support. One survey on Sunday found support for the Brexit Party had
fallen in a week from 11 per cent to six per cent. One Brexit party activist said they could only field fifty candidates.

Mr Farage had spent the weekend attempting to negotiate via back channels with Boris Johnson's chief of staff Sir Edward Lister, but Dominic Cummings is vehemently opposed to giving the Brexit Party a quid pro quo.

This seems both unfair and self-defeating. Why not let Brexit take some Labour seats if they can? I have always been opposed to the idea that every party should stand candidates in every seat. Tactical voting is essential to make parliamentary democracy work once third parties become sizeable.

As Mr Farage himself admitted:

"I have been trying to work out over the last few days what the right thing to do is - I can't stand the deal as it is because if you finish up with a deal that is based on regulatory and political alignment it is not Brexit.”

This is absurd. Regulatory alignment is necessary. As he should know, as he originally favoured the Norway option back in January 2016, the softest of soft Brexits

Back then, Leave.EU, which he led, issued a detailed plan for leaving the EU, involving a gradual separation over twenty years, membership of the single market in the interim and a second referendum to approve the withdrawal agreement.

On the other hand, compulsory political alignment is neither necessary nor desirable.

Mr Farage said his decision became "a lot easier" when Mr Johnson posted a video on his Twitter feed restating the party's position was not to extend the transition period after any Brexit deal beyond the end of 2020 and was aiming for a trade deal based on the EU's deal with Canada and "not political alignment".

The great new deal we've done with our European friends takes us out of the EU in January. Let’s build a new relationship based on free trade not political alignment.

"I think this announcement today prevents a second referendum from happening. And that to me, I think right now, is the single most important thing in our country. So in a sense we now have a Leave alliance, it's just that we've done it unilaterally. We've decided ourselves that we absolutely have to put country before party and take the fight to Labour."

Mr Farage insisted that Mr Johnson had "changed direction" though it has been his position for some weeks. Is this just a way of Mr Farage saving face?

Or was keeping Boris honest Nigel’s aim all along?

Or something somewhere between the two?

Mr Farage will now I hope stand down candidates in Liberal Democrat and Labour seats. 

Someone close to him has said off the record, 
“He can live with the deal if we’re definitely out in 2020. That needs to be specified in the manifesto.”
Mr Farage said, when asked whether yesterday’s was his final offer:
“I haven’t even considered that at this moment in time. I’ve just taken 48 hours to make this decision. Allow this one to settle first.”
A Brexit Party retreat from Tory seats is necessary for Boris but not sufficient, but implicitly Mr Farage has recognised that Boris's Brexit deal IS Brexit. This matters very much.

1 comment:

  1. https://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2019/11/08/when-he-supported-norway-the-brexit-policy-farage-would-rath