Posted on Feb 09, 2019
None of this will come as any surprise to those who know him well in a political context: Nigel Farage appears to be positioning himself to be ready, should the opportunity arise, to remain in the European Parliament (EP) for a fifth term.
His newly formed Brexit Party (although it is not clear at this point what, if any, official office he will hold) has been officially recognised by the UK Electoral Commission, clearing the way for him to stand in this year’s European Parliament Elections if, as appears possible, Brexit is delayed. The EP’s administration has put into place contingency plans for just such an event.
We're only making plans for Nigel... We only want what's best for him... We're only making plans for Nigel... Nigel just needs this helping hand
An EP with UK MEPs would look far different from the post-Brexit situation that the Eurocrats have been planning for. After the UK’s withdrawal the Parliament would have had fewer MEPs, although some UK seats would have been redistributed to the remaining 27 member states. It would also see a significant reduction in staff numbers. Although current staff members of UK origin have been assured that they will be redeployed, they will not be eligible for future promotion. Many of them have tried to address this problem by obtaining Belgian citizenship.
All this would have had major ramifications for the EP’s budget, and the last thing any EU institution wants is to see it’s budget being reduced. At this moment there is a great deal of horse trading going on in the backrooms of both the EP and the European Commission.
Farage’s personal ambitions to remain in the institution that has fed him since 1999 - he is one of the UK’s longest standing MEPs - should not be viewed in isolation.
As reported in EU Today (Dec 1st 2018), he gave his full support to his current Press Officer in the EP, one Hermann Kelly, during the September 8th 2018 Dublin launch of a new Irish party, clumsily named Irexit:Freedom to Prosper.
In an interview with the Irish Times, Kelly stated that he was “very much at home” with the economic nationalism espoused by Donald Trump’s former Chief Strategist in the White House, Steve Bannon.
Farage is also highly supportive of, and indeed linked to, Bannon, who is currently working to bring some of Europe’s more extreme right wing political parties together under the banner of The Movement, a somewhat murky populist organisation based in Brussels.
Another person with links to Bannon is Farage’s “co-habitant”, one Laure Ferrari, a former employee of Farage’s political group in the EP. Belgian legal documents obtained by EU Today clearly identify Ms. Ferrari as one of two nominees for the role of Secretary-General of The Movement.
Ms. Ferrari has a background in French populist politics, and was the centre of a UKIP funding scandal whilst head of the Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe (IDDE), which was found by the EP to have “used EU grant funding for the benefit of UKIP in breach of its rules…” This was in response to an enquiry by the Electoral Commission.
There are serious questions being asked in Brussels over the source of the substantial funding that Bannon has brought to The Movement. While he has stated that there is no Russian money involved, very few journalists are looking at any other avenues. It is certainly the case that individual parties involved in The Movement have either obtained, or sought, Russian funding. Certainly those politicians associated with the organisation appear frequently on Russian state controlled media.
Bannon’s former boss, Donald Trump, has also faced repeated suggestions of accepting Kremlin geld.
The newly formed Brexit Party, which Farage hopes will be him with a vehicle to a fifth mandate in the EP, needs to be examined in this context.
Farage’s position towards the French far-fight leader Marine Le-Pen has considerably softened: this may have something to do with the fact that she has also come under Bannon’s spell.
Those who worked with or around Farage were aware at the time when a petition calling for a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU was fast gaining signatures - a petition he had nothing to do with, incidentally - that a referendum was the last thing he wanted.
Like other UKIP MEPs he was aware that whatever the result, his party’s raison d'être would disappear. He only signed the petition on the green outside the House of Commons on the day that House Backbench Business Committee was debating the petition, and then only under duress from the actual instigator, Nikki Sinclaire, and in front of an amused group of journalists.
Of course, when the referendum was announced, it then became UKIP’s “greatest achievement”.
Despite this “achievement", and the criticisms he pours upon Theresa May for her appalling handling of the negotiations, one could be forgiven for suspecting that Farage will be privately praying for Brexit to be at the very least delayed.
Main image: By Euro Realist Newsletter - flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...
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