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Farage faces dilemma on the new Brexit battle bus

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 20.08.2018

Be prepared. Not only has Nigel Farage announced his ‘return’ to frontline politics as vice-chairman of the Leave Means Leave campaign, that organisation has also revealed they will be launching a new “battle bus” on the streets of Britain. The only question is what lie they will paint on it this time.

According to the official announcement, Leave means Leave is going to be campaigning on the streets against “the prime minister’s disastrous Chequers proposal”: the awful Brexit compromise that the Conservative party and indeed Theresa May’s own government are already doing an admirable job of dismantling. The real reason for the return of Farage, however, is more probably that he and his friends are getting rattled by the gathering momentum of anti-Brexit sentiment in the UK electorate.

If Farage were simply worried that May would sell his vision of Brexit down the river, he could surely rely on Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the rest of their fellow travellers within the Conservative party to do his work for him. But he also knows that they don’t have the votes in parliament to agree on an alternative Brexit plan.

There lies the great dilemma for the Brexit campaign. May’s plan is already proving hugely unpopular with Tory grassroots supporters. If it were voted down by Rees-Mogg’s hard Brexit-backing European Research Group, the move would be likely to trigger a leadership contest. If Farage’s friend Arron Banks is to be believed,  there are plenty of ardent Leavers willing to join the Tory party to make sure a proper pro-Brexit man – and it would almost certainly be a man – takes over.

But Farage can’t be sure. And a hard Brexit Tory leader could split the party, opening the way for a Corbyn government in Downing Street. This logic is why the more subtle Brexiters like Michael Gove are still backing May and Chequers. What they really want is a blind Brexit – a vague commitment to a final outcome without any real details – that takes us out of the EU on March 29 next year. Once that’s done, they can get on with campaigning for their real goal. All the more reason for us to campaign for a People’s Vote before Brexit can happen.

There’s no doubt the wind is gathering behind our campaign. Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton has donated £1m to the cause, a huge vote of confidence, and the polls are beginning to show that more and more people want the electorate to have the final say. With the UK facing a disastrous Brexit – either no deal, a bad deal, or a blind deal – the calls are getting louder for the public to take back control with a People’s Vote. It’s no wonder that Farage and his friends are getting badly rattled.

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Edited by Quentin Peel

Tags: , , Categories: UK Politics

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