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Food for thought for would-be defectors to the Brexit Party

May 21st, 2019

Mike Greene, the Brexit Party candidate for the Peterborough by-election, reportedly met Nigel Farage for the first time the night before he was unveiled as the new party’s representative. You have to hope that he does better due diligence on the companies he invests in.

For Nigel Farage is not the easiest man to work for.He has a very long-established habit of falling out with those around him. His history of leading UKIP was one of nonstop rows with senior colleagues. The body count rivalled that of Game Of Thrones.

Let’s have a look at what some of them had to say.

Douglas Carswell was a high profile MP defector from the Conservatives who became disillusioned: “Far from having a strategy, we seemed to be driven by whatever came out of Nigel’s mouth.”

Mike Nattrass was a UKIP MEP. After he left, he claimed:

“Ukip is now a totalitarian party. Nigel Farage only wants people in the party who absolutely and totally agree with him. I’m regarded as a troublemaker. The party has done very well. We all do a lot of work but it now has a totalitarian regime because the leader only wants people elected who are his cronies.”

David Campbell-Bannerman was also a UKIP MEP. His view, after defecting to the Conservatives was:

“What is concerning about UKIP is it has become very much a one-man band and a bit of a cult. There is a followership and even the constitution has been changed to favour pro-leader candidates. I don’t think that’s healthy.”

Maria Andreasen was a UKIP MEP (a former chief accountant for the European Commission before that, as it happens). Her view after leaving wasit was Mr Farage’s jealousy of potential competitors inside the “one-man band” party that had prevented candidates from having their records checked.

She said Mr Farage changed the party’s constitution last year “giving him full power on everything, including the establishment of strategy, policies and selection processes for candidates for elections”.

Godfrey Bloom, also a former UKIP MEP and one-time flatmate of Nigel Farage noted that  “even a hint of criticism” would risk getting “your membership card chopped up”.

You might notice something of a theme in these criticisms.

There have been darker suggestions. Nikki Sinclaire was a former UKIP MEP, she claimed that he put a fist in her face. She also helpfully provided some statistical analysis for those doing due diligence:

“Nigel Farage has been an MEP for 15 years; in that time there has been 19 other UKIP MEPs and he has fallen out with 11. In this Parliament in the last five years, the 12 MEPs he brought back to Brussels, he has fallen out with six.”

Nigel Farage has his own views on this. Of Ms Andreasen, he said: “The woman is impossible.” Douglas Carswell was “sniping from the sidelines”. He is no more flattering about his other former disillusioned colleagues.

Nevertheless, anyone thinking of teaming up with Nigel Farage should be aware that the chances of falling out with him are substantial. And given he had a reputation as an autocrat when he was in charge of UKIP, the structure of the Brexit Party should give any would-be ally pause for thought. For it is not a party, but a company controlled by Nigel Farage. He appoints the board. There are no members. Those registered supporters are the fools who are easily parted from their money – they get nothing for it.  

Nigel Farage is leader for life and he can do as he pleases. If you join the Brexit Party and you then fall out with Nigel Farage, you will lose.  

So, those hardline Conservative MPs beguiled by the Brexit Party’s rise in the polls need to do some careful thinking. Do they stick, unhappily, with the Conservative party (which they may well believe is a sinking ship) or do they defect to a new home where they will have no power and no real influence, where they will serve as a trophy rather than a colleague? To defect is to subordinate yourself to Nigel Farage forever. That is the tariff of admission.

The choice is not a particularly easy one, especially if you believe that the Conservative party is now incapable of delivering the Brexit you want. But anyone who defects to the Brexit Party only to discover that they end up as the next of Nigel Farage’s victims deserves no sympathy for their fate: the implications of the choice are there for all to see right now.

Alastair Meeks