Yesterday we published the second of a series of edited extracts from the Daily Telegraph’s conversation with Nigel Farage conducted by Christopher Hope at Cadogan Hall earlier this month. Today’s excerpts start with Farage on his special relationship with Donald Trump.
BEFORE we get to The Donald, let me just say this to you. In 2017 in June, in the general election in Peterborough, 95 per cent of the voters, 95 per cent voted Labour or Conservative. In the by-election that took place almost exactly two years later, 52 per cent voted Labour or the Conservatives. And I realise that now, actually, the foundation of the Brexit Party has literally blown British politics apart and we are on course for a long-overdue realignment of our party political system. And I personally think that these two parties that have dominated politics ever since the end of the First World War now serve no purpose apart from themselves . . .
The way my relationship with the President works is he calls me, ‘will I meet him?’ You generally don’t find that. I don’t plan, I don’t publicise, he’s surrounded by people who are trying to profit off their relationship with him, and I want him to trust me, I want him to be somebody who we can talk to. And I’m not going to blab to the press . . . So that’s the point I’m making. I would never, ever, ever say what he’d say to me. But I do talk to him quite regularly. I was struck by the visit . . . I met him at Winfield House . . . and Woody Johnson [the US Ambassador to London] was there, and [Trump] was on Cloud Nine. Everyone forgets this, his mother was a Scot, actually was a Scot, in many ways, until her dying day. She kept her accent, she regularly went back to the Western Isles; Trump as a young man went and spent lots of time in the Western Isles and he has strong affinity with that background. And his mum was a massive fan of the Queen, thought Queen Elizabeth II was an amazing woman. For Trump to have spent that time with the Queen, if you look at the photographs, clearly there was a bit of chemistry between the two of them, and he was just on top of the world.
And the other thing I want to say about the meeting, in the things we talked about, Tory leadership . . . or the European election results and what he thought about it, but what he was saying very, very clearly was, ‘Look, I am making this big offer to you on trade, you will get more out of it than we’re going to get out of it, but we don’t care, we want to help you, we want to help give you a way out, to make Brexit happen.’
And a trade deal with America involves no financial contribution . . . it involves no foreign court overseeing our nation, and it doesn’t involve regulation of the 90 per cent of our economy that is not involved in exports. And he realised, actually, if we just (stay) tied to the EU rules for years and say no to America and Australia and India and Canada, we literally must be mad. But when you’re with him, Chris, he is . . . he is just larger than life. I mean, he’s a quite extraordinary character. And the one thing that impresses people is he’s absolutely committed to delivering on the promises he made [to his national electorate] and he’s doing his damnedest to make sure those things are put in place; they will then judge him in the elections in November next year. And what a contrast that is to the so-called manifestos we get from Labour and the Conservative parties, who [make a promise] to get votes, and never even intend to carry it out. He’s a breath of fresh air.
Who Farage wants to work with as next Tory leader:
Well, look, I’ll work . . . I’ll work with anybody, I’ll work with the Devil if they’re committed to getting us a genuine Brexit. And a genuine Brexit does not mean handing over £39billion. A genuine Brexit does not mean a two-year transition period. A genuine Brexit does not mean being stuck inside the customs union, customs union rules, or we could partition part of our country off to somebody else. And if anybody was committed to doing this, I’d work with them. Now, it looks like Boris is going to win, but we never know. David Davis was massive odds-on favourite in 2005, suddenly David Cameron walked on to the stage and spoke without notes and stopped the show. But I . . . here’s my worry, all right? I like Boris, I enjoy his column. I’m pleased to see he’s picked up my theme, about extending broadband across the whole of the UK . . . he’s an entertaining figure, he’s got charisma, he’s got humour, he’s got humanity. He’s flawed, and I’m very attracted to people like that. But has he got the guts to do this? Because you see, you know, you read those columns, in the Telegraph after Chequers, where he’s talking about being a slave state. He’s talking about the Withdrawal Agreement being like a suicide vest around British democracy. And twice he votes against it. And then, on the third time of asking, despite having written those things, and said those things, he votes for it . . .
He voted for it. Jacob – I can’t believe Jacob voted for. I just don’t get it. And when you ask them why? ‘Oh, it’s all about party loyalty. We’ve got to keep the Conservative Party together.’ Well, to hell with the Conservative Party, what about the country? If we get Boris the Brave, he will realise there is no renegotiation with Brussels. Why? Because by the time the next leader’s announced, Brussels is toast. They’ve gone off to the South of France for five or six weeks, they’ll come back at the end of August, and then, this European Commission is on the way out, and new ones are being interviewed and coming in. The new one comes in on 1 November. There is no one to negotiate with for the next few months.
Now, if Boris said, ‘We’re ditching this terrible treaty, I made a terrible mistake in voting for it, we’re ditching it. We’re giving Europe notice, we’re leaving on the 31 October, on WTO terms, we’re going to do our utmost to make sure that in terms of aviation, transport, the Port of Dover, there is as little disruption as there possibly can be,’ then they might spring into action, and they might offer some sort of tariff-free deal. And if Boris did that, and he was prepared to go to the House of Commons, to vote it down, to lose a motion of confidence, to go to the country in a general election on that ticket, and with the support of people like me, he would win a massive majority. If he was prepared to do that, of course I’d want to work with him.
But Chris, he isn’t going to do that. I’m afraid it’s already clear he’s got the support of Matthew Hancock – people couldn’t even pick him out of a line-up, you know. I mean, talk about the bland leading the bland. So it’s pretty clear, so when you’re picking up support and endorsements from people like Hancock, the Boris Johnson Cabinet is going to resemble a Mrs May Cabinet. It’s going to be half Leavers and half Remainers, he’s going to pursue this wretched treaty. And Chris, I mean this, I hope I’m wrong, but I think he will [run] the most disastrous premiership we’ve ever seen. Because the patience of the Tory Party’s gone. You know that overnight polling in YouGov, 54 per cent of Conservative members would rather see the party destroyed if Brexit doesn’t happen.
Christopher Hope interjects: And 46 per cent want him to lead the party.
If 46 per cent of a party want somebody who resigned in disgust for their leader, it shows you that what’s really happening is something fundamental. People are now beginning to self-identify as Leavers or Remainers, not as Labour or Conservatives. So in a sense the realignment is beginning already.
In the final extract, Farage takes questions from the floor.