I want to comment briefly on the growing Brexit crisis before telling you about my encounter with Nigel Farage.
I still think Mrs May can get her deal through because as I have written many times before only a change in the law can stop Brexit, only the government can change the law and MPs won’t vote for no deal. The Commons can pass all the motions they like, but they ultimately have no effect. As March 29th approaches and the EU’s long extension offer loom, watch the dominoes collapse.
Now I want to my attention to my encounter with Nigel Farage in Chester. We Remainers are constantly chided for not accepting the result of the 2016 referendum by the de facto leader of the new Brexit Party. I have always believed there is no way Farage would have accepted the Referendum result if a majority of people had voted to Remain.
Ahead of his visit to the North West I looked up what Farage said in the hour after the close of poll in June 2016. Before results started to come in, he thought Leave had lost. He said the following “Whatever happens tonight, we are winning this war. The Eurosceptic gene is out of the bottle and will not be put back. My sense is that the government’s voter registration scheme has perhaps tipped the balance.”
Are these the words of a man preparing to accept the result, or getting his arguments in place ready to campaign for a second referendum?
I began my question by politely acknowledging that he had changed British history and then read the above quotes to him asking him to admit he would not have accepted a Remain result.
Instead of answering my question, he launched into a rant about the BBC (an organisation I have not been employed by for 13 years) betraying the people. The performance went down well with his audience which shows the power of this man. A few have told me since they were unimpressed and that includes me. Farage is a rabble rouser. He spends his time in the European Parliament insulting MEPs and tarnishing the image of our country. When he is here, he prefers a rant to responding to an uncomfortable question.
The truthful answer is that the ante brigade never gave up under John Major, Tony Blair and David Cameron and would have been undeterred by a Remain vote in 2016.
Demob Happy Chancellor
We may have seen the last financial statement of Philip Hammond. He would be unlikely to survive the fall of the Prime Minister. He is a top target for Brexiteers who increasingly run the Tory Party despite the fact that this week he was able to give an upbeat report on the economy. The budget deficit is at its lowest since 2001, wages are rising and unemployment low. His speech was laced with effective attacks on Labour’s high spending plans.
But he incurred the wrath of Brexiteers by warning that the economic recovery was being threatened by Brexit uncertainty and hinted at his support for indicative votes on Brexit options.
Grave offences in the eyes of those who’s priority isn’t to support a Chancellor delivering economic improvement but to risk all with a reckless Brexit.