In today’s final edited extracts from the Telegraph in conversation with Nigel Farage at Cadogan Hall, the Brexit Party leader responds to more questions from the floor. He is asked if he and his party would be pursuing other issues after Brexit, not least issues of integrity among MPs and local government.
(Nigel Farage replies): And the European Members of Parliament, who you can’t vote for, you can’t remove, but tend to come from this rather superior class of bureaucrats and politicians. . . We need fundamental, radical change to our entire set of political institutions in this country, to bring it up to speed, to bring it into the 21st century. The problem at the moment, I think the whole thing is corrupt in the most extraordinary way. How can it be that Tony Blair and David Cameron have appointed 700 of their Remainer friends to the House of Lords, how can that be? Where’s the incentive, for a Conservative in Sheffield or a socialist living in Ilford, where’s the incentive to take part in general elections, when you know that actually, two thirds of the seats in Parliament, under ‘first past the post’ simply don’t change?
How can we have a civil service that Gladstone turned into the least corrupt, the most efficient, in many ways the envy of the world, who now, over Brexit have frankly taken over government policy and (done) their utmost to stop the will of the people. You’re absolutely right. Brexit equals the beginning of a complete rebirth of this nation and that’s (what we aim for).
On climate change policy:
Well it’s worth remembering one thing, we as a nation now produce 1.8 per cent of global CO2. It is almost insignificant, compared to what is being pumped out by India, China and to a lesser extent America. Now, if you think unilateralism is the right route, because if we just unilaterally closed down the whole of British industry so we can reach zero net carbon emissions by 2050, well that’s (an option), but I’ll tell you what, it’ll make us a much poorer country, it’ll do nothing to save the planet. If you’re worried about CO2, so I’m going to be sensible about this, if you’re really worried about carbon, we have to do this on a global basis, not even on a European basis, we’ve got to do it on a global basis. What I (don’t like to see) are huge sums of money being (transferred) from relatively poor people through their energy bills and given to rich landowners for siting wind turbines on their land. I’m concerned about the environment, and I’d agree, way before the Green Party even came into existence, I even voted Green in the European Elections of 1989, when they were, when they were actually a very Eurosceptic, very sensible party and trying to encourage local (conservation) and things like that. So, I’m concerned . . . I’m concerned about our environment, yeah, I’m concerned about plastics, I’m concerned about many of these things, but if we unilaterally decide that we’re going to cut our carbon emissions to zero, while the Chinese are still building two new coal-fired power stations every single month, we will have committed an incredible act of self-harm, for virtually zero global (change).
On the question of the Irish backstop, and whether this relates largely to the EU’s single market.
During the referendum campaign, John Major and Tony Blair went out and visited Northern Ireland to talk about potential problems, but it was the lowest-rated issue in the entire referendum campaign. Suddenly on 8th December 2017, to meet an ultimatum set by Monsieur Barnier, Theresa May left Downing Street at 4:15 in the morning and flew over to meet him. Could you imagine that? The leader of our country dancing to the tune of a foreign bureaucrat? It’s beyond belief, it’s beyond belief – God knows what those old boys who went back to Normandy in the old days would make of that. And that was the day that she signed up to the backstop. That was the day that Barnier got her into a checkmate position. We’d agree, there was an insoluble problem, and that was it, we were frankly – technical term – we were knackered from that point on.
Here’s the reality. Today across that border, there’s a different income tax rate. There are different excise duties on tobacco and alcohol and other things, different corporation tax rates. Oh, I almost forgot, a different currency. All that leaving with no deal would mean is there would be some tariffs. But given that we have trusted-trader schemes, and apart from smugglers, who could exist anyway, you know, we know what’s going on, there’s no issue. As you say, the only potential issue is single market conformity. But on the day we leave the European Union, we’ve had 45 years of single market conformity.
Who he can speak to in the Brexit team that has got the information to stand up against Project Fear, as no one is telling us about what is being negotiated and signed off?
Well, in terms, in terms of the negotiations, there are one or two things that strike me. ‘There is no renegotiation with the European Union, they will not change that treaty.’ Barnier walks around with it leather-bound, under his arm. What we do need are people with imagination, people of business, to work with the government, to make sure that in four and a half months’ time, we’re ready to leave on WTO terms and fully prepared. And one of the things – and I wrote a letter to Theresa May, ‘Dear Prime Minister,’ (She hasn’t replied. It’s been suggested because she keeps re-reading ‘Dear Prime Minister, Dear Prime Minister,’) and I said, we’ve got talent within the Brexit Party, forget party politics, we’ve got business people, importers, exporters, we want to help.
Also, one of the things that Trump’s visit has left an impression on me is the extent of readiness of the American side for a negotiation. They’re ready to start negotiating. We, it would appear, have done diddly-squat, and Liam Fox’s department say, ‘We’ll begin negotiations after Brexit,’ and that’s because, in theory, European Union rules prohibit us from negotiating before Brexit. But why should we put EU rules in front of our national interest? The whole thing is mad. I’m going to bypass the government, I’m going to put together a team of industrialists, to go out to Washington DC this September to meet Bob Lighthizer, Trump’s trade negotiator, and let’s start getting a trade negotiation in place
What proportion of BBC journalists did Mr Farage thinks voted for Remain?
I would say 99 per cent – the only Leaver is Andrew Neil and he’s retiring.
What advice would you give pensioners over the age of 75, come next summer, when they’re confronted with the licence fee? (Christopher Hope)
I’ve just been re-elected as an MEP and I’m told that lawmakers can’t be law breakers, so I wouldn’t say to you, ‘To hell with them, see if they put you in prison’. That would be wrong, wouldn’t it, absolutely wrong. Look, I just think rather than charging people more for the BBC, we should be charging people less for the BBC. This licence fee makes it inefficient, and we are now living in a pay-per-view world, just as many of you in here are Telegraph subscribers, i.e. what you want to see online is the same. The BBC is anachronistic, it is, I’m afraid, politically biased right from the very top of the Corporation, its behaviour to Brexit has been a disgrace, and I have to say, I’m more than happy to be asked tough questions, but to appear three weeks into the campaign, only a couple of weeks to go, leading the opinion polls, on a Sunday morning programme, with a chap called Andrew Marr and not to be asked a single question about how we set the (Brexit) party up, why millions were following us online, why huge numbers of people were paying their £25 to subscribe to it; and all he kept doing was putting forward a series of quotes and misquotes, of things I’d said many, many years before. And halfway through that interview, I thought to myself, ‘Do you know what, I’m going to ruin your Sunday morning.’ And that’s why I did, by just questioning and parodying the whole thing. I didn’t walk out in disgust, because that would have been losing. But that said to me all I needed to know about the BBC, the licence fee needs to be phased out, over the course of a few years, it is not fit for purpose. (applause and cheering)
Since he is a divisive figure, as leader of the Brexit Party will he try to unite the country once Brexit is over?
Well, look, you can call me divisive if you want to, but could also call me effective, couldn’t you? You know, if I’d chosen not to be divisive, and not to get involved in politics, I’m going to say this, there wouldn’t have even been a referendum, it I hadn’t done what I’d done. Some of the past Tory leaders don’t like me, oh, some people can’t stand Nigel Farage – yeah, they’re Liberal Democrats. Look, I think . . . I think the answer to that is we have to force a new status quo. We have to deliver the will of the British people. We voted for this in a referendum. We voted for it again in a general election, we were promised that both parties would deliver. And we (won the) European Election, to make the party that wanted to Leave the top Party. And at Peterborough, us and the Tories got over 50 per cent of the vote; so if they split our vote the way in which they did, and once we do this, once it’s over, what we will see, we’ve got a better future, the country will unite and vote upon a campaign to re-enter the European Union, and it will have absolutely zero prospect of us joining this appalling, centralised, undemocratic (union). And I just hope that our leaving this union (will see) the country coming behind the new status quo. And it’s not just about us, I want Europe to leave the European Union.