Congratulations on the battle that your party fought, but I’d imagine that as close as it was there must be a tinge of disappointment that you didn’t quite get over the line.
Well, I said all the way through, we’d give it our best shot. We’d run it close and boy, we ran it close. I said we’d come a good second. We have a very good second. It’s difficult.
We’re eight weeks old today. We didn’t really have any data and we didn’t quite persuade enough conservative voters here that we were the only ones that could beat the Labor Party. That’s the message now in many seats that if you want to stop Labor, you’re going to have to vote for the Brexit Party, not for the Conservatives.
But listen, we’ve had a great campaign. We’re very pleased with our score.
The Labor candidate outgoing was seriously disgraced. It was a very, very heavy voting Brexit constituency. You did so well in the EU elections. People are going to be saying, “Well, EU elections, that was a protest vote.” They can’t actually make the difference when it comes to an electing MP.”
Well, as I say, we’re currently polling 26% of the National Opinion Poll, six points above everybody else.
One of the difficulties is in by-elections you’re up against big professional party machines. We’re very new. We started off with zero data. Labor had been knocking on doors here for months, years even, collecting households that are going to vote for them or might vote for them.
Look, we’re very, very new. We’ve got a lot more development to do, but this is a big strong, positive start being no doubt about that.
You’re six points ahead in the opinion polls, according to this YouGov Poll. Would you be ready were a general election to be called, Nigel? Could you have candidates in all the fairest constituencies to try and take advantage of that?
Well, if it was next week, no, obviously. But we have got two and half thousand people that have applied to be general election candidates. We’re going through those at the moment.
There is a big date coming up. The 31st of October is the new date we’re supposed to leave the European Union. All I can say is this. If we don’t leave the European Union on that date with a clean Brexit that frees us, delivers the result of the referendum, then this party will go on even stronger than it’s done in its first eight weeks.
One of the messages that I think the Conservatives are trying to keep going out there is that actually your position is helping Jeremy Corbyn because it’s splitting the anti-Labor vote. Certainly they would say that, “Actually come back to us, stay with us, otherwise your Prime Minister is going to be Jeremy Corbyn.” In this by-election, that’s what happened, didn’t it? The votes got split. Labor went through.
No, no, no. No, quite the other way around. This was a two horse race between the Labor and the Brexit Party and that was clear for the last couple of weeks. Had just a few more Conservatives realized that if they wanted to stop Labor the only way to do it was to back the Brexit Party, then we would have actually got over the line.
Look, Mrs. May told us 108 times we’re leaving on March the 29th. We didn’t. We now have a series of leadership candidates telling us we’re going to leave on the 31st of October. I don’t believe a word any of them say anymore.
It’s a very, very big if. It’s going to take somebody of courage and conviction to take this country out of the European Union on the 31st of October. At the moment, I don’t see anyone that’s going to do it. In many ways, I hope I’m wrong because I want us to leave the European Union. I want that referendum to be delivered upon, but there’s a long way to go.
Lots of times I’ve met the President that you don’t know about because it’s been in public. I’m a friend of his. It’s as simple as that. I never discuss private conversations, but all I will say is firstly, he is a true believer that Brexit is the right thing for this country to do.
Secondly, when it comes to a trade deal between the USA and the UK, what I was really struck by, not so much by him, but other people I met from the administration is how advanced their work is. They are ready with their side of the negotiation. Also, worried that our government appears to have done almost nothing.
These things around British politics now are not just about trust. They’re about the competence of people that are doing the job, too.
President Trump hasn’t been hugely supportive of Theresa Mays approach, has he, to put it mildly. But this week he was rather nice about her.
Well, Theresa May, as you say, is standing down as Prime Minister today and whatever she’s done politically on a human level, she’s had a pretty rough time and I thought the President was very nice to her.