Special report Farage – A New Populism

Sometimes, in politics, something or someone we think we know can reinvent, can become something brand new.


How are you doing?

Look beyond the old pinstripe suit, the obligatory pint in hand, because behind the trappings of the familiar, there is something stirring in British politics. Something we’ve never seen before.

This is the story of an old face fronting a new party with a fresh language and a radical message.

They’ve got another thing coming. This country needs the Brexit Party and the Brexit Party needs you. Thank you.

Please, welcome to the stage Nigel Farage.

An assault on everything we’ve known in British political life and how its custodians have allowed him to do it.

The no’s to the left; 432.

From May’s first Commons defeat in January, day by day, Westminster, our political institutions, and our main parties became gripped and tainted by ever greater indecision.


As the public’s frustration grew it became obvious to me that a new force remain or leave could use the now inevitable European elections to break through. One man had already been working on it for some time.

Please, welcome to the stage, Nigel Farage.

Without anyone noticing, Nigel Farage spent the dying months of 2018 quietly building up a network, an organization set up by his friend and now Brexit Party chairman, multimillionaire, Richard Tice. Leave means leave. Collecting names, supporters experimenting with social media strategy and grassroots organizing.

That embryonic organization became the Brexit Party. I’ve been following them from their first rally to the last, talked to its leaders, and witnessed the genesis of a fourth which in only six weeks of campaigning, is changing the contours of British politics.

When I arrived in Birmingham, I was struck most by the comparisons the amateurish leave means leave. This was an organization much changed. The branding, the logo, the professionalism of it all had transformed. And that’s before we even reached the message itself.

I’m back!

No mention of immigration. None of the familiar tropes of health and safety or bendy bananas. Instead, again and again, like a laser beam, that this country this once great country has been shamed by those who govern us.

That treaty that Mrs. May wants to get signed through the House of Commons is such a shameful document it could only ever have been signed by somebody who had been defeated in war. It is a travesty.

Great turnout.

Of course. With 48 hours notice.

I know. I know.

I think the argument that we are one of the oldest functioning democracies in the world that has seen democracy introduced by our career politicians over the last couple of years is a very powerful argument. The Westminster commentariat and political set perhaps underestimate the underlying level of support I’ve genuinely got out there across the country.

This queue’s very slightly faster than Brexit.

Totally betrayed. Absolutely betrayed.

And what does that feel like, betrayal? What does it feel like? If there’s one word you can say, how’s it feel?

It’s gut-wrenching.



It’s …

It hurts you.

It feels sick in your stomach.

Nigel came around, fighting back, and he’s given us our British problems. He’s put it back. That’s what it’s all about. [inaudible 00:03:56]. We need it.

2000 signs and there were about a 1000 people there today and you know, you could just feel it in the room, it was electric. And it isn’t just about Brexit, it’s about- it’s a whole transformation of politics and if Nigel Farage’s enemies, allow him to effectively become the change candidate, not just for Brexit but for politics generally, honestly, they won’t hear the last of him, he’ll be unstoppable, unstoppable. And this is just the start. This is four days in.

A top story: a disappointing night for both main parties in the local elections.

The conservatives have lost over 900 seats so far and the prime minister admits her party took a beating.

All good. Testing one two three four five six seven eight nine. All good. Marvelous.

In many walks of life, be it business, be it culture, be it a little campaigning, America’s always a few years ahead of us. And I have spent a fair bit of time in America, I’ve learned one or two things.

Like what?

Just the politics needs to be a bit less drab, a bit less dull. It needs to be lively, fun, energy, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.

Well as far as we in the Brexit party are concerned…

This is like a weird thing now is that you’ve got people like Ann Widdecombe, huge lines standing in adoration, applause run loud, loved by the crowd. People are like Ann Widdecombe and Nigel Farage now, [inaudible 00:05:35] the kind of heroes of the English, Northern regional midland working class. That’s like what politicians [crosstalk 00:05:40] that’s what happens to politics. It’s just really weird. It’s just weird. It’s a cultural turn.

Those patronizing nincompoops say during their dinner parties “Oh poor things, they didn’t know what they were voting for.” That was what we were voting for! For Britain to become a sovereign state!

What’s wrong with a good old-fashioned British compromise, something that would bring two sides together?

Vote for compromise, we voted to leave!

What if it could be shown, just bare with me, what if it could be shown that we would definitely lose jobs and if we came out with a hard Brexit?

We’d get over it? We’d get over it?

We would.

So it’d be worth it anyway, whatever. Yes?

What do you think of Jeremy Corbyn?

How would you feel if Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn put a deal together in the next few weeks?

The usual political stitch-up?

There’s not one person in this audience, who would want us to be a victim of this complete surrender. It’s a document you’d sign if you’re surrendering a war!

Let me ask you Donovan!

Donovan Sky News. Sky News. Boo.

Why shame on me? What have I done to you?

Fake news.

Fake news?

Well you’re a reporter aren’t you?

I am a reporter yes. But what do we say that’s fake?

Well most of it.

I’ve never been to a Donald Trump rally. But I reckon it’s probably not a million miles away from that. Just the anger, the bitterness. And I just think the idea that if Corbyn had made put a deal together that that anger in a bit this is going to go away. It’s for the birds. It’s for the birds.

Might not come back in effect May but it should be gone. But Corbyn, be a nightmare, whoever takes over from there be a nightmare. It’s just not going to go away. That anger’s not going to subside. No way.

The Brexit party out of nowhere has overtaken the tourism polls. But they think Labor voters hold Jeremy Corbyn and his party just as culpable for the paralysis in Westminster, and their vote is soft.

Do you think he understands people like you, places like Pontefract better than the Labor party for example?


Well [inaudible 00:08:13] monkeys. They don’t care. The things happening and they’re not bothered.

Well of course Yvette Copper has been one of the leading remainders in Parliament, a woman with leading [crosstalk 00:08:26]

Oh she’s just a traitor.

A waste of tax

A traitor?

A traitor to…

Yes to us

To us! To everybody in this area, we were all Labor. We were all Labor.

Is this a message from your mom to pass on to Nigel?

What saying what? “Mr. Farage, gutted that I can’t come today but I’ll be voting for you 100 percent. Wishing you every success.” Kiss kiss.

“Pass onto Nigel.”

There’s a kiss kiss for you [crosstalk 00:08:51]

No that’s for Nigel.


She has put quoted there pass onto Nigel [crosstalk 00:08:56]

And I also tell my brother today that Nigel Farage is here “What time, I love that guy.”

Because they both love him?

Oh yes. Massive fans.

Lets not be afraid of our flag! Lets not be afraid of our identity! Lets be proud!

In this campaign, Farage has set the tones. He has equated himself and his cause with country. His vision is to believe in Brexit is to believe in Britain, and so the purer the Brexit, the purer your love for Britain. That we are as powerful, if not more powerful than the EU. And if that’s your view, than any compromise with them is, by definition, betrayal.

Who do you think holds the cards?

It is almost a dictatorship.

We hold the cards.

We hold the cards?

We hold the cards, we definitely hold the cards.

The EU doesn’t. Even though they’ve got a 15 trillion dollar economy, we’ve got two trillion dollar economy.

There’s just all I know.

We beat Germany twice, we’ll beat them again.

So at the end of the day, another 650 people, on top of the rally they were at, they have Farage’s got rally after rally after rally right up until election day. He’s putting the hard yards in. I think it’s fair to say more than any other party. And I just can’t believe it, really, in the sense that, Farage says to me, he said it then wouldn’t say it on camera but, he said to me he can’t believe his luck, he can’t believe his luck because the two main party leaders, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn have just left the battle field open, for and they’ve did that for two weeks and the result that space, that space that normally at any national election the main party leaders would fill, he filled. And now, there’s probably no stopping him.

So I had planned in hopes to be in Wolverhampton for another rally today, but Theresa May is sort of like, well inconvenienced things by a little bit by announcing she’s not going to be around in a couple of months so I had to stay here.

But fortunately, I can be there without actually, well, being there, because they have a pretty stellar, unusually stellar, social media presence.

The Brexit party needs you! Thank you!

Good evening prime minister. Wonder where we’re going, who knows.

Every party rally screamed to thousands of people on Facebook and twitter. As the campaign has progressed the numbers have swelled. Supporters interact and coordinate activity.

I could imagine Mr. Churchill walking down the halls of Westminster with his cane and cigar smoke, coming into this room, standing for the Brexit party, and then saying, “What are you doing to my party? [inaudible 00:11:17]” and then whack them around the head.

Britain is a nation of sleeping lions, best not to wake them up. Well guess what, we woke up.

Can we do it? Can we win?

As the campaign climaxes, Farage dominates. Its closing days he is struck with a milkshake. He is still loathed by many. Far from brushing off the incident with the milkshake, he furiously accuses Romaines of the radicalization of politics.

I think we could all agree that politics has become coarser in recent years. But I put it to you. Look, do you not think that maybe you are partly responsible for that coarsening. I mean just a few things that you’ve said in recent=. You said that if you didn’t get the sort of Brexit you want, [inaudible 00:11:57], pick up a [crosstalk 00:11:59]

That was a metaphor joke.

No, okay. Let me just…

Excuse me. Said during a comedy evening.

Okay. You described the British negotiating team as the enemy within. You said many times in this campaign that May’s deal could only have been signed a nation defeated in war. You consistently evoke the language of war, of appeasement, treachery, anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

I’ve never used the word treachery, betrayal I’ve said.

Sure, okay betrayal. But I’ve been at many of your rallies as you know, and very often when you mention people like Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May or [inaudible 00:12:24] or whoever it is. You mention their names, you get the crowd to boo, okay fair enough, quite pantso but fair enough, and then people shout out things like traitor, now you never turn around to them and say, “No excuse me Sir/Madam, they’re not traitors, they’re citizens, they’re patriots, I just disagree with them.”

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, history teaches us something here. If you tell people they are superior, or their views are superior, to another group of people, bad things happen.

Wait a minute.

The only way, the only way that civilized democracy functions is if the loser consents to the result. And what you’ve had here, since the referendum, are some very senior public figures who do not accept the will of the people, and that has radicalized a group.

Everything that has been charged against you in this campaign, is that you know it’s not that easy to leave. You know full well.


Let me finish for a minute and then respond. You know full well that we’ve been in this organization 45 years, it has permeated every aspect of our lives, we are in one single economic area with the European Union. The reason that it’s not easy to leave is because you were right, that it was a very powerful dominant force in our life. And other people, like Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn or whoever, they have got to try and take us out with care because it was so dominant. And then you come along and say, “No, it’s easy.” I think you know it’s not easy. [crosstalk 00:13:36]

We have now got, we have not got. We have now got a deadline of the 31st of October. All right? That date will build up in the minds of the British people in the same way the 29th of March did. We have got many, many months now to build on the work that was already done, to be fair, the European Union had done even more work on the WTO of Brexit than we’d done. This is not a difficult thing to do, but, to do it, you have to believe in it. And what is clear, is that Mrs. May never believed it.

This is by far the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done. We are attempting a peaceful, political, revolution in this country. It is needed! It is needed! It is needed!

I don’t know what’s going to happen after these elections but it doesn’t really matter whether he wins [crosstalk 00:14:30]. Because he’s already won. He’s already won because he’s made the conservative party more like himself. More like him. More like [crosstalk 00:14:36] which is exactly like what he’s done before. There’s no way it’s a conservative party, now it’s never going to embrace anything other than no deal, it’s abandoned May’s deal, it’s going to be new [crosstalk 00:14:46] party. And it’s going to be much more like him, and neither is Theresa May.

Nigel! Nigel! Nigel!

This thing which is new about the Brexit party isn’t its euro skepticism. Instead, it is its attitude to politics. It represent a full on assault on every British political institution. The parties, the media, the courts, parliamentary democracy itself. A system in which people have lost trust, and without that this party could not exist. We thought the referendum was Britain’s great populist revolt, it may have been but mere prologue.