Nigel Farage has misjudged the mood of Brexiteers, which is why I’ve left the Brexit Party for the Tories

Nigel Farage has misjudged the mood of Brexiteers, which is why I’ve left the Brexit Party for the Tories

Nigel Farage has always been a hero when it comes to Brexit. Unquestionably, the EU referendum would not have happened without him. He is a man of the people who galvanised two parties to electoral success and helped deliver a referendum result few felt possible even on polling day. But we are at a point now where the great hero of Brexit has become the man who might, as Jacob Rees-Mogg says, ‘snatch defeat from the jaws of victory’.

As someone who campaigned for many years for Britain to leave the EU, I came to know Nigel personally in 2009 when he travelled down to Surrey to help me campaign in a small district by-election where I was standing. I can still think of no other leading politician who would undertake such a task. His commitment to the cause was unquestionable and indefatigable. I attended several fundraisers at his personal invitation and felt elated when the Brexit Party launched earlier this year.

Theresa May’s ambivalent attitude toward her EU Withdrawal Agreement left Brexiteers like myself utterly demoralised. When Nigel stepped back into frontline politics ahead of the 2019 European Parliament election, it seemed the Leave campaign had re-awoken after years on life support.

Like so many other Leave supporters, I voted for the Brexit Party and relished watching them defeat Theresa May’s moribund Conservatives. I went further, paying £25 to be a registered supporter of the Brexit Party, whilst simultaneously still a Conservative.

Nigel’s success in the European election thankfully ended the abysmal Theresa May premiership and ushered in the man who should have been elected Conservative leader three years ago – Boris Johnson.

Fast forward nearly six months and the situation could not be more different. Conversely we now have a situation where the Brexit Party has ceased being the means of delivering Brexit and morphed into the party that could prevent it ever happening.

The last straw for me was Nigel parading himself in the media demanding the Benn Act be adhered to and an Article 50 extension requested. My immediate reaction was incredulity; my next was to telephone Brexit Party HQ and demand my registered supporter status be cancelled. I then renewed my Conservative Party membership, the only party of government capable and committed to leaving the EU.

When dedicated Brexiteers from the European Research Group such as Mark Francois and Steve Baker (both ‘Spartans’ who consistently voted against the Theresa May Withdrawal Agreement) believe the Boris deal is Brexit, it seems ever more ludicrous that Nigel is continuing to preach about a perfect scenario. There is no such thing. It is high time he accepted this fact.

Worse still, the behaviour of the Brexit Party leader is now coming across as petulant sour grapes. Unusually for Nigel, he appears to have totally misjudged the mood of Brexiteers. Most now acknowledge he should only be targeting between 20 and 50 Northern and Welsh Leave seats – and certainly not the full slate of candidates who are rostered to stand. Several of his own MEPs are in open revolt and even some of his general election candidates are standing down in protest.

How ironic, then, if the man who championed the Brexit cause for three decades were to be the catalyst in overturning the largest democratic mandate this country has ever witnessed. I urge Nigel to put country before party, do the right thing and stand his troops down. If he does, history will respect him and he will always be our Brexit champion. If not, Brexit could be lost and he will be vilified by the very supporters who were once his political lifeblood.