Tories Fret at the Prospect of Nigel Farage, Hero of Brexit, Returning to Britain From America

If he does come home, he knocks four points off the likely vote for both Conservatives and Labour.

AP/Ross D. Franklin
Nigel Farage at Arizona's Phoenix Goodyear Airport on October 28, 2020. AP/Ross D. Franklin

Just how scared are Britain’s governing Conservatives at the prospect of Nigel Farage returning to frontline politics? Very, going by a headline in the Daily Express: “Tory plot to ‘neutralise’ Nigel Farage by calling November 14 general election.”

Their cunning is to time a general election to coincide with the American presidential contest on November 5. Mr. Farage is coy about which contest he considers more worth his attention, though he conspicuously leans toward being Stateside on Bonfire Night.

Such fears are warranted, when considered in relation to polling carried out for the London Sun. A survey by JL Partners shows that, with Reform UK led by Richard Tice, Labour stands at 45 percent, the Tories a distant second at 25 percent, and Reform running fourth (behind the Liberal Democrats) at 10 percent.

However, if Mr. Farage returns to frontline politics to lead Reform, he takes 4 points from both Labour and the Tories, that fall to 41 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Reform rises to 16 percent (with the Lib Dems remaining unchanged at 11 percent). 

Reform helmed by Mr. Farage takes one-in-ten of voter support from those who would vote Conservative or Labour, the survey finds. He even appeals to those who would otherwise sit out the election, with 14 percent opting instead to make their mark for “Nigel’s party.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Farage appears unfazed by all the attention. He continues to signal that he is quite willing to sit this UK general election out. Hitting the hustings on the campaign trail for friend and political soulmate Donald Trump seems more to his liking.

Mr. Farage could be said to feign disdain for reports of his power over Brexiteers. According to him, the “Tories are toast,” irrespective of his standing for a seat in the House of Commons. As he tells the London Sun, “The Tories’ misfortunes are all their own making.”

One can only ask, however, has Nigel Farage lost the plot? “There is a tide in the affairs of men which,” Shakespeare wrote, “taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

No one would say that Mr. Farage has led a misspent life in politics. It is generally conceded that without his vision and determination, independence would still be a dream, with the United Kingdom still shackled to the European Union.

Rather, one could wonder why, having nurtured Brexit so far, Mr. Farage is foregoing a rare opportunity to cement its gains and realize a true conservative renaissance.

Few can doubt that he would be an asset to Mr. Trump in America, but does the former President really need an assist from Blighty to get back to the White House? Might not Mr. Farage get more bang for his buck by mounting the charge for conservative values at home?

Two questions come top of mind. First, can the conservative rejuvenation come unless the dead wood is taken out? This is the immediate objective of Reform UK. Yet without Mr. Farage to champion them, will Reform be able to administer the coup-de-grâce, from whence this conservative rebirth is to come?

Second — and more important — no one seems to consider rationally the ramifications of a Labour Government on the Brexit ideal. The Conservative Party accuses Reform of taking away its vote, as if popular support were its by right. That privilege has to be fought for and justified.

The Conservative Government has failed on that brief. However, while Reform is right to say that any return to principle rests on the Tories getting their nose bloodied, this is a medium- to long-term project. What of the short term?

Neither party has a realistic, dispassionate plan for minimizing Labour’s backlash against Brexit were it to form a government — the likely scenario ever since Boris Johnson’s polling numbers began to sag, three Conservative premierships ago.

Were the consequences not so ominous, one could sympathize if Brexiteers berate Conservatives and Reform with Mercutio’s “a plague on both your houses.” As luck would have it, the best thing going for the right is that the left, too, is unloved. The Labour Party is picking up votes mainly by default.

Although British politics are bleak at present, there are small signs that things are turning around. Economic factors are improving, with inflation, wages, and GDP all indicating growth in the future.

As well, consensus is growing that rising UK immigration, whether legal or illegal, is unsustainable. Public services are being overwhelmed and shared community norms are fraying.

At the same time, skepticism about decarbonization schemes and the effects of social engineering are gaining ground.

For good or ill, such is the sea upon which Conservatives and Reform — and the fortunes of the United Kingdom — are “now afloat.” Nigel Farage has an important decision to make, whether he is to make his stand in America or at home.

The New York Sun

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