Nigel Farage makes new comeback bid: Acting
Ukip leader rips up pledge to quit front line politics
as he vows to forge new alliance with Donald
Trump and fight for a Commons seat
- The Ukip leader vowed to quit frontline politics after the EU referendum
- But he now plans to use his alliance to take the Commons by storm
- There may be a by-election in South Thanet amid corruption claims
- He has tried and failed to be elected seven times since 1994
- Theresa May rejected his offer to act as a link with Trump and Parliament
Defiant Nigel Farage hit back at Theresa May last night – and vowed to use his new alliance with Donald Trump to take the Commons by storm.
The acting Ukip leader tore up his pledge to quit front-line politics after the EU referendum and said he would stand for Parliament if corruption claims against the Tories over his General Election defeat in South Thanet lead to a New Year re-run.
Farage, 50, even joked about the possibility of golf fanatic Trump coming to the UK to campaign for him, saying the Kent constituency had ‘the best golf courses in Britain’.
If a by-election in Thanet takes place, it will be Farage’s eighth bid to become an MP.
Farage, 50, even joked about the possibility of golf fanatic Trump coming to the UK to campaign for him
While May was only the tenth world leader called by a triumphant Trump, Farage was granted a 50-minute ‘audience’ at his Trump Tower HQ in New York. No 10 called Farage an ‘irrelevance’ and refused to use him as a go-between with the President-elect.
Flustered Mrs May also failed to kill off rumours she may be forced to give Farage a peerage.
Farage spoke of his latest comeback as we chatted in Westminster’s Wash House basement cafe – about as far from Trump’s gaudy skyscraper as you can get.
After the June 23 referendum, Farage stepped down as Ukip leader, saying he ‘wanted his life back.’
FARAGE’S 7 FAILED ATTEMPTS TO BECOME AN MP
1994: Lost Eastleigh
1997: Lost Salisbury
2001: Lost Bexhill and Battle
2005: Lost South Thanet
2006: Lost Bromley and Chislehurst
2010: Lost Buckingham
2015: Lost South Thanet
2017: South Thanet?
He returned as acting party leader when his successor Diane James quit after just 18 days – but insisted he would disappear again when a replacement was chosen. His tone at Wash House is not one of a washed-up politician. He is not interested in treading water at Ukip: Farage wants to take the Commons by storm and confront May head-to-head.
His South Thanet comeback bid comes days after new reports dragged Downing Street into a growing controversy over the Tory campaign against Farage in the constituency last year.
It was claimed that a senior May aide, who is now a No 10 adviser, was part of the team that narrowly defeated Farage. Police and election watchdogs are investigating claims that the Conservatives broke election spending rules. If they are upheld it could result in a by-election.
Furious Farage says the Tories ‘cheated’ in South Thanet. ‘I suspect one of the reasons Downing Street is being so vile about me – just when I can play a positive role with Trump – is because they are worried this may come back to bite them.’
Will he stand if there is a re-run in South Thanet? ‘I’d have to,’ he says with glee.
Maybe his pal Donald will repay his support during the US election by helping out? He roars with enthusiasm, and says Trump would love South Thanet’s three Championship courses – the Royal Cinque Ports, Prince’s and Royal St George’s.
The front cover of this week’s Economist magazine shows Trump, Putin and Farage as militaristic 19th Century nationalists, strutting the world stage – in step. It’s a terrifying thought for many. But Farage spits: ‘They’re wrong. Let’s see how well this model [the EU] that has taken power from Paris, Berlin and Vienna is doing: neo-Nazis marching in Greece, and Europe in a bigger mess than ever.
‘When the EU disintegrates – as it will – we will have a Europe of neighbours who get on fantastically.
‘The real nationalists are the EU nationalists with their EU flag, anthem and army. We’re the normalists. We aren’t dangerous.’
Napoleon Nigel is not to everyone’s taste. But he is no fake. Around this time of year, I occasionally wear my dad’s inconspicuous D-Day veterans’ tie. He spotted it in an instant, leaning over to inspect the landing-craft motif.
For all their brotherly bluster, it is hard not to imagine City gent Farage stifling a yawn of distaste while visiting Trump’s Manhattan mountain of bling.
‘We all have our own styles. I’m not his interior designer. If I was rich I wouldn’t be living in the middle of New York, I’d be out in Maine, somewhere coastal.’ Ah yes. Elegant, traditional Maine, New England. Blink and you could be… in Farage’s native Thanet.
He insists the private Trump is nothing like the coarse, pouting, firebrand public Trump. ‘In private he is reflective, charming, thoughtful, sincere.’ Really? Not the first words that pop up if you Google Trump.
If Mrs May is kept waiting on the Trump White House hotline, it will be because Nigel is blocking the switchboard.
He is close friends with two of the President-elect’s most controversial appointments – the new Attorney General Jeff Sessions and chief strategist Steve Bannon, of Right-wing US website Breitbart. Both face racism claims, which are dismissed with contempt by Farage.
So could Trump the Twitter hothead be trusted with the nuclear button?
‘People with a personality who haven’t gone through the political sausage factory have passion and a temperament and let their emotions show in public – the rest are so dull,’ says Farage. ‘It doesn’t concern me in the least.’
Others are very concerned.
Labour MP: Scotland could have own border control
Brexit could lead to England and Scotland having separate immigration systems, a senior Labour MP has signalled.
Yvette Cooper, the new chairman of the Commons’ Home Affairs Committee, raised the prospect of different parts of the UK operating under different immigration rules. The remarks came at a private meeting with SNP MPs when Ms Cooper was bidding for their support to become chairman of the powerful committee, sources said.
Yvette Cooper said Brexit could lead to England and Scotland having separate immigration systems
Asked if she was ‘amenable to distinct immigration rules for Scotland’ after Brexit, Ms Cooper is understood to have replied: ‘Yes.’
The remark signals a major U-turn for Labour just two years after the party warned about the dangers of checkpoints on the Scottish border during the 2014 independence referendum campaign.
Challenged over the comments yesterday, Ms Cooper’s spokeswoman said there needs to be ‘national debate’ on the subject. She said: ‘Yvette has said we need a national debate on what the new immigration rules should be, listening to views from all over the country, and taking account of the different impact on jobs and public services in each area.
‘The Home Affairs Select Committee has not looked at this yet, but it will be doing so in the New Year.’ A majority of Scots voters backed Remain, and the SNP government at Holyrood believes the economy north of the border needs higher levels of immigration to boost the workforce.
But that has raised fears of a hard border to stop foreign workers entering England by the back door.
Oh b*******! I’m in a bally musical, too: Simon Walters reviews the first night of Brexit The Musical
Theresa May is a witch, Michael Gove is a camp creep, Nicola Sturgeon is a hag, and Jean-Claude Juncker is a drunken, belching Eurocrat.
No one comes out of David Shirreff’s new satirical play about the EU referendum – Brexit: The Musical – with credit.
It is the first in a slew of forthcoming films and plays inspired by the referendum. They will have their work cut out to match the wit and pace of this musical romp, performed at London’s Canal Cafe Theatre.
Shirreff dishes out ridicule in equal measure to the Leavers and Remainers.
His Theresa May, played by Reggie Seeley, is a wooden Maggie Thatcher tribute act. She parrots lines from her speeches, along with a peppering of Churchill – to the indignation of Boris Johnson, who claims he wrote them, not Winston.
When May, Nicola Sturgeon and Andrea Leadsom appear as Macbeth’s three witches, Johnson, (James Sanderson), cries: ‘Let them hail Boris the king!’
A squeaky voice splutters: ‘What will I get?’ It is the panto villain, Michael Gove (Chris Vincent), portrayed, in Shirreff’s words, as a ‘creepy Kenneth Williams’ – the Carry On comic actor, raconteur and wit whose fame peaked in the 1960s and 1970s.
Shirreff’s David Cameron (Stephen Emery) is a weak toff who trembles with fear every time that German Chancellor Angela Merkel opens her mouth.
Deluded Cameron boasts he has done well at an EU summit with the words: ‘Who said I couldn’t negotiate my way out of a paper bag?’ Boris replies: ‘Er, it was me I think, Dave.’
No one comes out of David Shirreff’s new satirical play about the EU referendum – Brexit: The Musical – with credit
Nigel Farage (Jack Badley) also goads Cameron, singing: ‘I have to say I’ve had a laugh, speaking for the other half, the folks that don’t think much of Eton and other schools where chaps get beaten.’
Brexit Ministers Liam Fox and David Davis constantly bitch at each other. When Fox claims: ‘I’ve nothing to hide’, Davis jibes: ‘That’s a first, Liam.’
The ‘Three Brexiteers’ – Johnson, Davis and Fox – later chant: ‘We haven’t got a clue what to do and where to start, we need to show by and large that someone competent is in charge.’
Like so much of the play, it is hard to tell where fact ends and fiction begins – a reflection of the background of Shirreff, who is a former journalist with The Economist.
He says: ‘Brexit is great material for ridicule. In one scene, Boris raps with Putin in the Kremlin.
‘It hasn’t happened in real life yet – but it could.’