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Farage Plans Revolution as Brexit Party Targets EU Election

By Bloomberg 12 April 2019
Caption
British politician and The Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage addresses the launch of The Brexit Party's European Parliament election campaign in Coventry, central England on April 12, 2019 Photographer: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

One of Britain’s most controversial political figures -- Nigel Farage -- is returning to front-line campaigning to fight for Brexit.

Farage, the former leader of the U.K. Independence Party, is spearheading a new vehicle — the Brexit Party — which launches its contest for next month’s European Parliament elections on Friday.

Addressing an event in the pro-Brexit city of Coventry, England, Farage warned opponents his approach was now “no more Mr. Nice Guy,” He said he’d placed a 1,000-pound ($1,300) bet on his party coming top in the election and slammed the political establishment as incompetent.

“We are lions led by donkeys,” he said.

The government does not want to hold the vote scheduled for May 23 because the country is in the process of leaving the European Union. But Prime Minister Theresa May has conceded the election will need to go ahead if the Brexit deal she’s negotiated with the bloc is not ratified in Parliament in time.Euroskeptics such as Farage are dismayed that Brexit has now been delayed twice — and the U.K. is currently scheduled to remain inside the EU until Oct. 31, if Parliament does not approve the divorce agreement before then.

‘Betrayed’
“Three years ago we voted to leave the European Union. We were told it would be implemented,” Farage told BBC Radio on Friday. “We have been betrayed — and the fightback begins today.”

In Coventry, he introduced one of the candidates who would run — Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of hardline Brexiteer Jacob — who said she was ditching the Conservative Party over May’s handling of the divorce.

“My country needs to be recognized in the democratic way that it has called for. Our politicians need to listen to what the people have said,” she said.

The 55-year-old politician has been a thorn in the side of May’s ruling Conservative Party since David Cameron took office in 2010. His brand of uncompromising euroskepticism tempted senior Tory politicians to defect to UKIP, which shocked the political establishment in 2014 by winning the popular vote in the European Parliament elections of that year.

Threat to Tories
It was Farage’s electoral threat that persuaded Cameron to promise a referendum on EU membership, and he put it in the Conservative Party manifesto in the 2015 general election. Britain voted a year later to exit the bloc and Cameron — who campaigned to remain — resigned as prime minister.

Farage predicted a political “revolution” as rising disillusionment at May’s handling of Brexit builds momentum for his new party. At least one Tory member of Parliament is considering voting for the Brexit Party if the elections go ahead. According to Farage, it has received 750,000 pounds ($980,000) in small donations online since it launched 10 days ago.

While officials are preparing for the elections to be held, May’s office insists she could cancel the vote as late as the day before — if her deal is ratified. But Farage said that would be a big mistake, making voters who feel they’re being denied the Brexit they opted for in 2016 “even more furious.”

“People are angry enough already that their vote has been robbed from them,” he said. DM

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