Nigel Farage unleashed an epic burn on Tuesday upon his return to the European Parliament in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
Last Thursday, in a shock to pollsters, political elites, and the London-centric media, the United Kingdom voted to leave or exit the European Union by 52 percent to 48 percent, roughly the same margin by which Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency.
Farage was not part of the officially sanctioned “leave” campaign, but was perhaps the most effective Brexit champion.
As leader of the UK Independence Party (Ukip or UKIP) and a longtime member of the European Parliament, Farage has worked tirelessly for more than two decades to extricate Britain from the EU, which culminated in the successful vote for leave/out in the national referendum.
Relentless pressure from Farage and UKIP — along with Euroskeptics in Prime Minister David Cameron’s own Conservative Party — is credited with compelling Cameron to authorize the Brexit referendum in the first place. Cameron campaigned for the unsuccessful “remain” or stay side.
YouTube contains a full array of Farage’s feisty speeches, debates, and often contentious media interviews over the years, all suggesting that he could be one of the best orators on the world stage, whether you agree with his views or not. The populism and anti-globalism that has given rise to UKIP also partially parallels the success of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the U.S.
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Prompting a certain degree of heckling, Farage spiked the football (see clip below which has gone viral) as some on social media described it in U.S. terms, in gloating about the Brexit win.
“Isn’t it funny? When I came here 17 years ago and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me. Well I have to say, you’re not laughing now, are you?…You as a political project are in denial…The biggest problem you’ve got and the main reason the U.K. voted the way it did is because you have by stealth and deception, and without telling the truth to the British or the rest of the peoples of Europe, you have imposed upon them a political union…UKIP used to protest against the establishment and now the establishment protests against UKIP…”
Farage also accused many of the EU career politicians/bureaucrats in the chamber of never having a real job (which does not apply to all them, the Guardian reported) and predicted more European countries will attempt to pull out of the EU. He described Brexit as a victory for ordinary people over the big banks, political insiders, and multinational corporations.
Boris Johnson surprised everyone today by dropping out of the race to succeed Cameron after his Brexit wingman Michael Gove decided to seek the job for himself. In recent days, Johnson also seemed to be backpedaling on invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, a step which is necessary to formally begin the Brexit process and unwind his country from the EU.
Cameron resigned the morning after the Brexit vote, pending the designation of his successor.
The front-runner for Cameron’s job appears to be Home Secretary Theresa May, who was a member of the remain camp, however. With the Conservatives holding a majority of seats in the British parliament, the House of Commons, the party’s new leader will automatically ascend to the premiership without a national election, although a new election might follow later, depending on the political environment. By law, another general election is not due until 2020.
Farage wrote in the London Telegraph that today that “It is inconceivable that the next Prime Minister, whose most urgent task would be to implement the Brexit process, could be someone who only days ago was insisting we Remain in….The next person to lead our country must be someone who intends to help fulfill this country’s potential as a self-governing nation, a global Britain with strong border controls and a clear, credible path ahead out of the EU.”
Although he is not resigning, Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is also on thin ice because he allegedly failed to mobilize sufficient numbers of pro-EU voters from his party. Corbyn is also under fire for a remark that is perceived to have been anti-Semitic.
Support for and opposition to Brexit crossed ideological boundaries in the U.K. For example, leave received the backing of a coalition across the populist left and right, with many Labor Party voters — who are somewhat equivalent to what was once called Reagan Democrats on this side of the Atlantic — voting for Brexit.
Shortly after the election officials certified the Brexit vote, Farage called for June 23 to be celebrated henceforth in his country as U.K. Independence Day.
Some political observers in the U.K. believe that Nigel Farage and UKIP may have paved the way for Cameron and his Conservative (or Tory) Party to win the May 2015, parliamentary elections in a landslide. In that election (in which pollsters claimed that Labor had the upper hand), enough Labor voters went with UKIP instead, allowing Tory candidates to slip through in some districts, while in other constituencies, UKIP-leaners apparently voted tactically for the Conservative candidate to prevent Labor from forming a left-wing government in a coalition with the separatist Scottish National Party.
UKIP received about 4 million votes nationally, but because of the U.K.’s convoluted electoral system, gained only one seat in the House of Commons. Nigel Farage himself narrowly lost his bid to enter parliament in that election.
In an interview with CNN this week, Nigel Farage talked about Donald Trump, insisting that Trump would better for the U.K. than the past eight years under Obama. He also gave his opinion about whether he would vote for Hillary Clinton if he was a U.S. citizen.
In a now-deleted tweet, a journalist who apparently supported remain (or “Bremain”) supposedly speculated about the possibility of going back in time and killing Nigel Farage, according to Breitbart London. “It is just weeks since a serving British politician was brutally murdered, and many on Twitter were shocked that a professional journalist would make such a statement – satirical or not.”
A separate Breitbart London article claimed that a British rapper apologized for a now-deleted tweet that “ostensibly threatened the gang rape of one of…Nigel Farage’s young daughters.”
As alluded to above, there is now a movement for Brexit-style referendums in other European countries, such as France, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, and elsewhere on the continent as populist parties — not all of which fit neatly into the media’s right or left pidgeonhole — gain further traction.
[Photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP]