Farage’s Return: The Brexit Architect Enters the Race

Author Alexander Tatiev
Category Columnists, People, Town
Date June 4 2024
Reading Time 3 min.

Farage’s Return: The Brexit Architect Enters the Race

Nigel Farage has once again shaken up the political landscape by unexpectedly announcing his candidacy for the upcoming general election as the leader of the Reform UK party. One of the key figures behind Brexit, Farage plans to run for a parliamentary seat in Clacton (Essex), a constituency known for its strong right-wing sentiments.

Farage had previously stated multiple times that he did not intend to run for office and would focus on American politics, particularly helping Donald Trump get re-elected as President of the United States. The former (and now returning) leader of Reform UK explained that the primary reason for his change of heart and return from across the Atlantic was a desire not to let his supporters down. Mr Farage said he wanted to lead a “political revolt”: “Yes, a revolt. A turning of our backs on the political status quo. It doesn’t work. Nothing in this country works any more.”They [the Conservatives] are split down the middle on policy, and frankly, right now they don’t stand for a damn thing,” Farage declared.

Farage’s return to the political arena comes at a critical moment for the Conservative Party. A YouGov poll involving around 60,000 respondents indicated that Labour could achieve a historic victory, winning 422 seats in Parliament and leaving the Tories with just 140. According to a More in Common poll, the breakdown is slightly different: Labour with 382 seats compared to 180 for the Conservatives. Farages presence is likely to siphon off a significant percentage of Tory voters.

The Essex town of Clacton holds special significance for Farage and his supporters. It was here in 2014 that the first UKIP (UK Independence Party) MP was elected. The town, where over 70% of voters supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum, remains fertile ground for Farages populist ideas. Moreover, much is at stake: this is not Farage’s first attempt to get into Parliamenthe has run seven times before, each time unsuccessfully.

Nigel Farage’s decision to return and lead Reform UK, previously headed by Richard Tice, signals that the far-right wing of British politics is strong and ready for new challenges. Additionally, Farage’s entry into the race can be seen as a reaction to recent comments made by Rishi Sunak about him. Suggesting that hewithdraw his candidates in exchange for some “reward” from the Tories, Farage probably did not anticipate a refusal: a similar scheme worked in 2019, significantly improving Boris Johnson’s results. This time, however, the deal did not materialise. In response, Reform UK plans to field 630 candidates in elections in England, Scotland, and Wales, posing a serious challenge to the Conservative Party.

Farage is already making bold statements that turn out to be fake. For example, he claims that 2.4 million people have moved to the UK in the past two years. Wrong! According to official statistics, 1.2 million people arrived in the country in all of 2023, many on temporary visas. Net migration, which accounts for arrivals minus departures, was 685,000 in 2023 and 764,000 in 2022. Farage also defends his brainchildBrexit. He argues that the UK has better economic performance compared to EU countries, citing a 0.6% GDP growth in the first quarter of 2024 versus 0.3% in the Eurozone. However, this selective comparison ignores that the EUs economic growth is twice as fast as the UKs: from 2019 to 2024, the EUs figure was 3.4% compared to the UKs 1.7%.

Nevertheless, as before, a hardline stance on immigration is central to Farage’s campaign. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, he emphasised the need to sharply reduce the number of people moving to the country. “We dont need any [immigration]not at all,” he stated.

Time and again running for office under a banner of xenophobic rhetoric, Farage might seem like a madman, but is he really? Yes, almost ten years ago, when he last ran for office, the country was not ready for harsh statements. However, the picture has changed, and not for the better: Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are flourishing, and conspiracy theory supporters are multiplying. If Farage wins, a seat in Parliament will be a fitting end to his career. Even in defeat, the far-right politician will find satisfaction: Reform UK will gain some percentage (currently polling around 12%), significantly disrupting the Conservatives, and especially Sunak.

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