So Achilles has finally come out of his tent and, at last, a victorious end to the forty year Eurosceptic siege of Brussels can be seen on the horizon.
In one apparent glorious shift of the tectonic plates, Boris’s ‘outing’ has succeeded in turning the marginal into the mainstream. Euroscepticism, once the territory of Mr Cameron’s mad swivel-eyed loons, has overnight morphed into the acceptable stuff of polite metrosexual liberal dinner party conversations. Johnson and Gove between them have provided its new and acceptable face.
Insulting your own side is a dangerous thing to do in politics. However, for three years it worked rather well for our Prime Minister, Mr Cameron. It kept his Cabinet (along with the perks and power thereof) in check.
With the BBC ever on hand to help with the labelling, marginalising or otherwise demonising the so called fruitcake brigade, Dave must have felt supremely confident that Brexit could never gain traction where it mattered – in Westminster – and that he was safe to promise a referendum despite the European Election results.
Well how wrong could he have been? A week in politics is a long time. Though he dare publicly question his former chums’ motives, Cameron can hardly imply that a former Cabinet ally is an extremist or that the libertarian and scholarly Mayor of London is a fruitcake, despite his various antics.
But for all the limelight accorded them neither could have orchestrated this seismic shift without the build up of hot molten rock from the magma chambers underground. If any of these latter day affiliates think they are solely responsible for changing the political landscape, they should think again – and pay some respect to those who paved the way.
For lest they forget there is one man and one man alone who delivered their day in the sun – one man who pretty much single-handedly delivered the referendum to the British public. He is the one man and the one man alone who can take credit for forcing – nay shaming – the Conservative Government to bow to public (not Westminster) opinion and finally allow a democratic vote on the fundamental governance of our country.
This one man is also the most significant force in British politics for a generation. He is more informed about the workings and history of the EU than any other British politician. He’s a man who grew a political party pretty much from nothing, a party which, in 15 years, has succeeded in redrawing Britain’s political map. Love him or loathe him, no one can take away the fact that under his leadership Ukip won the European Elections in 2014 hands down – stealing votes from Labour and the Conservatives alike. The Ukip victory was the first national election victory by other than the Conservatives or Labour in more than 100 years (since the Libs won in 1910).
He is also the man, who, though unquestionably a democrat and a patriot, has been tarred by people who should know better as a racist and has been treated like a political pariah by most of the political establishment.
Tory sceptic Cabinet ministers still resolutely cold shoulder him, they are reluctant to share a platform with him – even on an issue they fundamentally agree with him on. They treat him at best as though he were too common for them, at worst as though he was diseased.
He laughs it off. He is different. He has not waited carefully to weigh up the risks before putting his head over the parapet.
Without briefings and on the hoof he outperforms the lot of them. His answers flow naturally and fluently. He is a force of nature whereas they are not. He is of course Nigel Farage.
I am not saying he is without his flaws, no doubt ego is one of them. His capacity for not valuing the need for organisation is startling.
But of one thing there is no doubt. Without Nigel Farage there would be no referendum, there would have been no Cabinet ministers Vote Leave press conference. Gerard Lyons (The Mayor of London’s Chief Economic Advisor) would never have been given such a platform on the World at One on Monday to make his sceptical case. Priti Patel and Iain Duncan Smith would not have been doing the TV studio rounds all weekend.
Nigel Farage is the unsung hero of the Eurosceptic Odyssey. There are others too, less known than him, who have sacrificed political preferment for principle – who’ve been prepared to put country before party – not least Malcolm Pearson, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who through Global Britain for 16 years has ensured that the BBC’s EU coverage has never gone unscrutinised.
It is a poor show then that the man without whom we would not have a vote on our membership of the EU on June 23rd continues to be sidelined by the Westminster Eurosceptic elite – now they are happy to be named as such. They should know better and I for one expect more of them.