by John Ward
Labour’s MP for Peterborough is facing criminal deception charges. It looks like Brexiteer Tories may try to turn the seat into a UKIP gain….if Nigel Farage is the candidate.
There is probably only one politician more shrouded in rumour, treason and plot than Nigel Farage, and that’s Boris Johnson. The latter devoted the weekend to insulting women in Burkas, when a serious analysis of Islam’s potentially pernicious role in our culture would’ve been far more useful. Equally, most people are by now fed up of BoJo’s intemperate outbursts, and would prefer a more serious approach to ousting The May/Robbins/Hammond Fifth Column busy mining the road to Brexit.
There have always been doubts about how and why Farage and other leading Kippers ‘stood aside’ in the 2017 General Election, thus allowing Jeremy of Galilee to pick up most of UKIP’s former voters. In turn, many are still puzzled by Farage’s remark, on the eve of Referendum victory for the Leave campaign, that UKIP was “going nowhere”. Either way, the decision to give the Tories “a free run” at proper Brexit was a disastrous one – and I told them so at the time. At a stroke, it enhanced Corbyn’s “Messiah” image, and put a Remain cabal in charge of diluting Brexit until it stands today, post Chequers, as Remain Lite.
The Slog is persona non grata among senior Kippers these days, which is fine by me. When Farage insisted he “wanted his life back” (a claim about as convincing as Cameron saying he’d stick around to put Brexit in place) it was clear he was in a huff about UKIP rebuffing his desire for the Führerprinzip. When last year he took the Antipodean shilling to tour there as the new Alf Garnett, I felt my judgement of the bloke had been vindicated. He is the most mould-breaking British politician of the last thirty years, but he is profoundly flawed.
Rumours have persisted that either a bung or a firm promise (or both) from the Mayflower Conservatives helped Mr Farage to rediscover the need for his life, if not his wife. I have never been given any convincing evidence or testimony to suggest that filthy lucre was involved, but if someone in Number Ten gave Nigel her word that she’d deliver Sovereign Brexit, then he was a dummy to have accepted it.
However, there is now the suggestion that a new jigsaw puzzle is under construction. These are the pieces in place at the minute:
- The Johnson/Davis plotters – for all their bluster – think a full-blown leadership challenge against May at the Party Conference is too risky (see my post of July 18th as to why) and could give her a free run for a year. That would be disastrous for Brexit. They now prefer to fight the Remaindeer Herd – for the time being at least – by scorching the ground they graze and making new MP friends.
- One avenue suggested is some form of alliance with a revitalised UKIP….by which is meant a UKIP with Farage back in harness. Its two goals would be to create a more populist focus to the revolt against Brexit dilution, and then force May to resign – having convinced equivocal Tories that no election could be won with her – but victory could be assured if an election deal was done openly with UKIP.
- At the 2017 General Election, Labour inflicted a shock victory over the sitting Tory MP when Corbynite Fiona Onasanya scraped in by just 206 votes. Most national and local analysts concluded that former UKIP voters defected to Labour en masse. But now, Onasanya faces a charge of perverting the course of Justice; her next appearance is in a week’s time. There is a good chance that she will be forced to resign the seat. The defeated Tory MP Stewart Jackson has confirmed that he will not fight the seat if Onasanya goes. Jackson was David Davis’s chief of staff at the Brexit Ministry.
- At the weekend, the Nigel Entourage told the media that their leader will make a comeback ‘if Brexit is still off-track’ by March 2019. But Farage leaked to the Sunday Times that he would be very interested in standing for Peterborough. The connections involved here strongly suggest that Tory Brexiteers are teeing the seat up for the former UKIP Leader. Also in March, Gerald Batten’s term as top Kipper ends.
- Privately, Boris Johnson has been a party to meetings with ‘undecided’ Conservative MPs arguing that the best way to stop Corbyn is not only to dump May, but also to forge an Election relationship to regain UKIP voters. The ‘Keep Corbyn Out’ line is playing well in these sessions: it would play better still if Farage was back as a hugely popular leader. Effectively, the Johnson/Davis group would force a “Brexit Election” based on the principles of independence and respecting democracy.
- A poll of Tory MPs last week surprisingly showed that Party opinion is moving towards BoJo: he emerged as the clear favourite to replace May. Brexiteers are already claiming this as proof that their private persuasion campaign is bearing fruit.
- In the 2016 referendum, Peterborough was the most pro-Brexit constituency in the land, with 3 in 5 voting to leave.
There is always seditious talk among MPS; there is nothing they like better than plots and coups. But if more of this jigsaw puzzle’s pieces fall into place over the next fortnight, the Tories could yet return after the summer recess facing a genuine chance of survival in any General Election. The key element is Farage. Love or loathe the bloke, most Brexiteers will be glad to see him back in harness.