The only person ever elected for the Brexit party’s predecessor, Ukip, at a General Election, I really can’t see the point in voting for them now. Why?
If you want Brexit done, Boris needs to be returned as Prime Minister on 12 December with a working majority. Backing him is the only way to beat the Brexit blockers, who’ve done everything they can to try to stop us leaving.
A vote for the Brexit party won’t just add to the uncertainty. When Nigel Farage announced he’d be fielding candidates in every seat across the country, unless Boris ditched his deal, he also suggested that the Brexit party now wanted us to remain in the EU for an extra six months.
You read that right. While Boris wants us out of the EU in less than 90 days, by the end of January, it’s now Brexit party policy to keep us in even longer.
‘But what about the deal Boris has done with the EU? Isn’t it a betrayal?’some will say.
No, it emphatically isn’t.
Under Boris's Brexit deal, Britain leaves the EU – including the single market and the customs union. We leave the jurisdiction of the European court. We leave the common agricultural and fisheries policy.
We take back control of our own money and borders. We would live under our own Parliament and make our own laws.
In short, we would have everything we leavers have wanted – and have everything an independent country ought to enjoy.
Indeed, its precisely because Boris’s deal does deliver Brexit that Farage stopped trying to find apparent fault with it. He switched instead to arguing that the problem lay in any future trade deals that we might conclude with the EU after we’re out.
This strikes me as disingenuous. It’s the mirror image of those Remain supporters who suggest that if we had a trade deal with the US after we leave we might be forced to all eat chlorinated chicken. Both are citing some as yet undecided future trade deal as an excuse to oppose what’s actually on offer.
After we have left the EU, the UK will negotiate a trade deal with the EU. But to suggest that we should oppose Boris’s deal as a means to get us out because we might not like the terms of any such future agreement strikes me as absurd.
Even more striking to me was the fact that yesterday was supposed to be the Brexit party’s campaign launch. Yet instead of, you know, actually launching a campaign, it was all about whether or not there might be Brexit party candidates at all.
With less than two weeks to go until nominations close, a party serious about winning seats ought to have candidates in place and on the doorstep – not a discussion about whether to stand.
Perhaps Nigel has misjudged the mood? According to opinion polls, an overwhelming share of leave-supporting voters want Boris’s deal done. I am not sure that attempts to discredit it will work.
In a contest that is shaping up to be about the People Vs Parliament, there was something a little jarring about Nigel making his pitch to the punter in terms of what deals and arrangements politicians and party leaders might make with each other.
Perhaps what we saw yesterday is a sign that some inside the Brexit party feel they’ve been here before?
At this stage ahead of the 2015 General Election, Ukip was polling approximately the same level of support that today the Brexit party enjoys. Far from winning many seats – let along holding the balance of power in the hung Parliament – Ukip famously only won a single seat; mine in Clacton.
Of course, back in 2015 it was worthwhile standing, even if we failed to win any seats. Why? Because it put the electoral thumb screws on David Cameron and co, who having offered us a referendum looked like they would renege.
What is the point in applying pressure to Boris Johnson, the first British Prime Minister committed to extricating us from the EU and the man who actually led the Leave campaign?
Perhaps that’s part of the problem. Boris, rather than Nigel, is now seen as ‘Mr Brexit’ and Nigel wants the role back, but can’t have it.