Ever since 2016, Nigel Farage has been the international face of Brexit. Whether speaking in the EU parliament or speaking next to Donald Trump, Farage’s ability to articulate and promulgate the Eurosceptic cause in Britain has long been recognised as one of suburb political mastery among both among his supporters and his opposition.
After the 2016 Brexit referendum vindicated Farage’s political career, he stood down as the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Since then UKIP’s worst tendencies have come to define the party. Instead of moulding itself into an all-ideologies big tent designed to unite Brexit supporters of the left, centre and right, under the leadership of Gerard Batten, the party has embraced a racialist and Islamophobic tendency that has seen the controversial Tommy Robinson become a major figure at the party’s increasingly hooligan dominated rallies.
And yet, the cause that UKIP was founded to pursue is now more mainstream than ever. This was clearly confirmed when in 2016, 17.4 million UK voters decided to leave the European Union. Faced with the reality that Britain’s political elites have done all in their power to stall, water down and even negate the Brexit process, Farage started the Brexit party.
For the time being, the Brexit party is a single issue party as well it should be. Because the Brexit question from 2016 was a binary issue that cut across party lines whilst simultaneously invigorating many first time voters, it would be electorally counter-intuitive to pin the Brexit party to any one political ideology. Although the party seeks to exist even after Brexit is delivered, until such a date, the party remains committed to expend its resources and political talents on Brexit’s delivery in line with the wishes of the majority of UK voters.
The party’s support base is far wider than one might imagine as former Tories, former UKIP members and former Labour MPs, including George Galloway have offered their support to the party’s campaign in the run up to the EU parliamentary election that will take place on the 23rd of May (unless Britain manages to leave the EU before that time).
It is therefore no surprise that according to a recent opinion poll, Farage’s Brexit party will likely win the election in May. In some ways this is not a revelation as in the last EU parliamentary elections in 2014, a Farage led UKIP came out on top among UK voters. However, today’s circumstances could not be more different.
In 2014, it was received wisdom that the growing trend towards Euroscepticism among the UK public remained on the fringes of politics. As such, the “experts” thought that David Cameron’s 2016 Brexit referendum would result in the effective end of Farage’s career by proving once and for all that British voters wanted to be a part of the European Union.
Instead, the referendum ended up vindicating Farage’s career of Eurosceptic politics whilst the May government’s endless delays and its deeply unpopular watered down proposal for withdrawing the UK from the EU has validated Farage’s long held views that the Westminster elite will do all they can to avoid implementing the results of a referendum they previously promised to implement.
As such, Farage finds himself in agreement with a majority of voters including those on the left, right and centre. By ditching a toxic and now increasingly irrelevant UKIP brand and embracing a big tent Brexit party’s ethos, Farage is now literally at the centre of UK politics. This clearly frightens his opponents and it likewise demonstrates that everything he said about his own position has been right all along. It turns out that contrary to what the media had tried to say, Farage is neither an extremist nor someone on the fringe. Nigel Farage is the politician of the hour and even his opponents would benefit from understanding that and reacting accordingly.