DESPITE being staged at only two or three days’ notice, the rally kicking off the new Brexit Party at Birmingham’s International Conference Centre last weekend was a sell-out. The crowd were enthusiastic, cheerful and excited. There was even a little bit of chanting before kick-off – including a burst of ‘Nigel, Nigel’. You can see the whole event here. For any Brexiteer it was good rousing stuff.
The party’s newly confirmed chairman Richard Tice was on first as warm-up. His message was optimistic. Ours is a great country, which has been given a great opportunity in Brexit. But we are held back by a useless political class who barely believe in Britain and are capable only of feeble and weak leadership; we now have a chance to do something about that. The audience showed their emphatic agreement, particularly by booing at mentions of the Conservative Party and some of our leading politicians.
As the main event, Nigel Farage was at his confident and ebullient best. Almost as much an entertainer as a politician, he couldn’t have been more popular with the crowd. There was a slight touch of pantomime as the various Brexit villains were booed at different points in the speech. To my ear the loudest by far, easily beating those for Tony Blair and Mrs May, were for Anna Soubry. Jacob Rees-Mogg might be pleased to know that his name brought some cheers.
Farage ripped into a political class who had completely failed to give the electorate what they had voted for. Not just by failing to honour the referendum, but by failing to honour the promises made by both Labour and the Conservatives at the last election to implement the referendum result.
He went on to predict an earthquake in the May Euro elections, with voters likely to give a good kicking to the establishment parties who have let them down so badly. To Farage, despite the constraints of first-past-the-post, we could be about to see a re-ordering of our whole political system. He pointed out that the risk of splits in both the established parties and the immense public anger they face represent a huge opportunity for the Brexit Party to gain both a presence and influence in future politics.
It would take a lot of confidence to say he’s wrong.