.. for debate with guests the likes of my next one, Nigel Farage, former Ukip leader and current independent MEP and now the brand new leader of the new Brexit Party. He joins me. Good morning to you Nigel.
Good morning Julia.
Good morning. The Brexit Party exists and you are formally its leader.
Yes, I signed the forms yesterday, so yep, I’m the leader of the Brexit Party.
We’ve set it up because well firstly UKIP has taken rather a change of direction, so sadly I had to leave after a long time. But really I’ve set it up because I felt a few months ago that it was likely that we just were not gonna get any meaningful form of Brexit, that an extension to the Article 50 date was the most likely outcome.
And if that’s the case, which I really do believe it is, then we have to contest European elections and those elections will be the first opportunity that the British public have to express their opinion on the way that Parliament and indeed our government has handled Brexit.
Well, you are going to be attending a rally outside Parliament today, the Leave Means Leave rally. It’s the end of the march down from Sunderland. Well, it started with a few dozen up to a couple of a hundred people marching down to protest for a genuine Brexit departure. How are you feeling today though about the fact that we were supposed to be leaving, supposed to be big celebrations, independence day everyone was calling it?
Almost three years ago now, there was so much hope, so much expectation this would be delivered. Did it ever occur to you when you were campaigning for us to leave back in 2016 that if we won, that that would be stopped, that would be thwarted by the establishment, the politicians, the MPs in the Houses of Parliament?
Well, I thought there’d be some battles obviously, and I didn’t necessarily think we’d get everything we wanted in one fell swoop. But I have to say, that the day two years ago, exactly two years ago today, when 498 MPs voted for Article 50, which said we leave on this date with or without a deal, I must confess you thought then we’d done it. I thought we’d won.
And so this has become a day of betrayal, a day of shame, and I think actually one of the saddest chapters in the long history of our nation. It is an outrage that the democratic will of the people has, as you say, been thwarted by our political class, and I’m very, very angry about it.
But the one thing that encourages me is the British public, far from changing their minds, actually there are more people now who think we should leave than ever before, and even though it’s not gonna happen today, I’ll make this one promise to your listeners, it will happen. The genie is out of the bottle, we are going to leave, but I’m afraid to say we’ve got some more battles to fight first.
Well, we’re told again and again by politicians, an awful lot of them remain, but some of them Brexit as well saying, “Look, people have had enough. They just want this over and done with”.
Do you think that there is actually any evidence that people are saying, or there’s any evidence that Brexit voters are gonna say, “Yeah well shrug, well we had a good go, never mind”?
No, in fact they’re hardening and if you look at the recent spate of opinion polls, what it shows now is that leaving with no deal is the most popular option by far, it enjoys at least a 15 point lead over extension of any form.
So what is happening is Brexiters are uniting around the position we’re not interested in deals of any kind, we’ve had enough of being talked down to by Mr. Tusk and Mr. Juncker and Mr. Barnier, we just want to leave. And I think people that have come to that conclusion are not gonna change their minds.
We’ve got into a situation, the Prime Minister went with her begging bowl last week trying to get the EU to agree to an extension, so she had more time to get her deal through. If by 11PM tonight she doesn’t get her withdrawal agreement, which no one expects she will, she’ll have to go back before the 12th of April and ask for another extension because if we don’t get that deal through today, 22nd of May falls as the date for us departing.
What do you think? You’ve spent a lot of time in Brussels and we talk to a lot of Brussels correspondents and people who spend time there, but what do you think the European Union wants to happen next? Would they rather they just got shot of us and we went for a no deal? Do you think they’re willing to make changes to the withdrawal agreement, to do a deal that’s perhaps more beneficial to us? Or do you think they are going to hold firm?
No, and let’s please not call it the withdrawal agreement, let’s give it its proper name, the treaty, okay? Monsieur Barnier walks around the building with the bound copy of the treaty, as he calls it, under his arm and they are not going to change that, not one little bit. There is a possibility, maybe not that big a one, but there is a possibility that some European leaders say, “Do you know what? We’re bored with this. The UK is stopping us getting on with our work,” so there is a chance that they veto any extension.
There’s also a chance, I suppose, that Mrs. May in the end says, “Alright, let’s just leave on the 12th of April with no deal”. But in reality, they will probably offer us an extension. The talk this week was that it would be an unlimited extension. Can you imagine the humiliation of Theresa May signing up to an unlimited extension? So I think whichever way you cut this, an extension of one or two years plus is the most likely outcome.
And you seem to be almost relishing the idea of that. You’d rather we were leaving today, but if we’re not leaving today with either a no deal or a deal that you can live with, do you think an unlimited extension of one year, two years, who knows how many years, is actually working in the favor of the leave voters?
Yes, I do. I think that we’re gotta get a new prime minister this year, whether she wins or loses today, that is certain. And I think a new prime minister with this treaty would be in a very bad place. It would lead to years of acrimony. It gives the other side the whip hand.
So I think a new prime minister at some point this year with a clean sheet of paper and a chance to press the reset button and say, “We’re not accepting this treaty. We actually want to get back to where we should be, either we have a free trade deal or we leave,” I think that actually is the best hope that leavers have got now.
And in terms of the European elections, if there’s an extension past the 22nd of May, as it looks very likely there will be, you’re going to be standing in those European election. As you say, you’ve just signed on the dotted line in terms of the Brexit Party.
The Brexit Party will be standing. It was the 2014 European elections where you actually, a leading Ukipper at the time, won those elections. Again, a lot of people forget that that was the real reason why we ended up getting that referendum, because the threat from Ukip to Tory MPs was so great. What do you predict will happen this time round?
All I can say is this, I think that our Parliament, our political classes, our government, our two party system have shown themselves to be incapable of delivering the will of the people. I think British politics needs a revolution.
I can’t promise that I’ll deliver it, but I can promise that if I’m leading the Brexit Party on May the 23rd, I will endeavor to begin a political revolution, a break up of our two party system, and to try and get ultimately a House of Commons that reflects the will of the people of this country. As I say, I have no guarantee of success, but I tell you what, I’ll try my damnedest.
Now just the march for Brexit arrives in Parliament Square today. There are a number of different demonstrations, we think up to 11 different organizations, [inaudible 00:07:30] you have to apply to the police for permission. We know that one of those demonstrations is by your former party, led by Gerard Batten, Ukip, along with the likes of Tommy Robinson in Whitehall. You’re with Leave Means Leave and that’s gonna be in Parliament Square.
There are lots of worries that there could be trouble. Now we’ve seen horrible events that are going on in the streets of Paris and I like to think we’re not French, we do things by the ballot box. But is there a worry, a concern that actually the anger that people are feeling about their vote being ignored from 2016 could actually spill into violence on our streets?
Well, everything I’ve done with Leave Means Leave and with the Brexit Party as well, everything I have done, Julia, is to make sure that people actually have a peaceful means and a democratic means through which they can express that anger.
And I would urge all people on the leave side, however angry they are to deal with this in the appropriate way. Whether we get aggravation and trouble from the other side, well, we’ll just have to see. But I hope not.
Okay, just finally there are a lot of people waking up this morning just feeling a little bit down, feeling a little bit blue, feeling very, very different from how they would have felt that Friday, that beautiful Friday morning, the 24th June 2016, when I have to say I was crying, genuinely tears of joy that we had actually done it, that we had seen our country returning to be an independent sovereign state.
Many people feeling today that that may not happen, feeling that they have been ignored. What do you say to those people listening right now?
Well, I’d say to them don’t worry, I haven’t gone away, many of us haven’t gone away, and if you think back through history, all the great changes in history tend to come after a series of battles and struggles.
We thought we’d won, but we may have to go and fight this all over again, and we will win in the end. We will prevail, of that I have absolutely no doubt at all.