NIGEL Farage deserves the congratulations of every Brexiteer today. Indeed, he merits the thanks of every person in Britain who does not want a Corbyn government; who would hate the Liberal Democrats to hold the balance of power from next month, and who is concerned about the threat of a second referendum.
In stating that the Brexit Party will not field candidates in the 317 seats won by the Conservative Party at the 2017 general election, Farage has reduced the chance of all of these things and shown himself to be decent, pragmatic and grown-up.
Granted, there may have been some self-interest in his decision. He has been under enormous pressure for the last ten days from many quarters, not least the Mail titles, to stand down Brexit Party candidates altogether in order to avoid splitting the right-of-centre vote and letting Corbyn into Number 10 via the back door. (In fact, all that this media pressure shows is that Farage is rightly feared as the most effective political communicator in Britain; he should have been flattered by it.)
Furthermore, for a small and new party such as the one he leads, resources would surely have been stretched to breaking point if he had gone ahead and fought an election campaign in 600-plus seats.
Those selfish points aside, Farage has, rather bravely, made a concession which now makes it more and not less likely that Britain will end up with a Brexit-compliant parliament on 13 December. To that end, he has put country before party and shown himself to be the bigger man.
Johnson made it easier for him, of course, by giving ground. For instance, he said Johnson’s commitment to strike a trade deal with the EU without ‘regulatory alignment’ was a ‘huge change’ in the Conservatives’ approach to Brexit. But Farage has the moral high ground, as it were.
From what I know of Farage, having met him more than decade ago, this will have been an enormously difficult decision for him to make after 25 years of campaigning to get Britain out of the EU. But as I also know him to be a far kinder and more human individual than is commonly believed, I am not surprised that he has taken this course.
Consider this: Farage’s LBC colleague James O’Brien is openly vile about him on air given the chance, but Farage has never once made a negative remark in public about O’Brien. Farage is utterly discreet, a gentleman of the old school. Personally, I would trust him before I would trust Boris Johnson.
Now that Farage has made this decision, he has free rein to go around the country and have some fun. I hope he will. His aim is to target Labour seats and expose the embarrassing folly of Labour’s Brexit position. I pray that he is successful in that endeavour. It is nothing less than Corbyn and his followers deserve.
If the Brexit Party returns a decent number of MPs next month, there is every chance that it will hold the balance of power in a tight finish.
This would guarantee that Boris Johnson, about whom it is difficult to be complimentary, would be kept honest on the EU question from now on.
It would also represent much better value to the taxpayer than the £1billion deal Theresa May was forced to do with the DUP in 2017.
Farage concluded his announcement by saying: ‘We now have a Leave Alliance, albeit unilaterally!’
It hits the nail on the head. Farage has been proactive where Johnson has not. I think history will judge him kindly for it.