Andy McSmith's Diary: A plot to kill? Or does Nigel Farage just have a screw loose?

It is odd Mr Farage should decide not to report his car crash nor say anything publicly until nearly three months later

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Indy Politics

The story of how Nigel Farage’s nuts came loose is a curious one.

The Ukip leader was driving home from Brussels in his Volvo 70 last October when he crashed because a wheel fell off.

This week, he claimed: “The French police looked at it and said that sometimes nuts on one wheel can come a bit loose – but not on all four. The mechanics were absolutely certain of [foul play] but I have decided to take no further action.” 

It is very odd that he should decide not to report the matter, nor say anything publicly until nearly three months had passed.

The French newspaper Liberation investigated and kindly provided an English translation of its report, posted online.

It verified that Farage had indeed suffered a road accident near Marck, in northern France, on 21 October, and that the owner of the garage to which his car was towed thought it odd that all four bolts on a wheel should have come loose. 

But from there, the stories diverge. The garage owner did not call the police because he did not suspect sabotage. He suspected the bolts had been wrongly screwed on in an earlier repair job. Dunkirk’s prosecutor confirmed that police were at the scene of the accident, but no one suspected foul play, except – belatedly – Nigel Farage.

Memory lapse

Paul Flynn, the veteran left-wing Labour MP for Newport West, was not impressed when his parliamentary neighbour, Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South, resigned in protest after Jeremy Corbyn had sacked the shadow Europe minister, Pat McFadden. He tweeted: “Steve ‘Who?’ Doughty resigns as part of Revolt of Unreformed Blairites uses wild divisive language. One Leader. One Party. One Enemy.” The tweet was deleted after 28 minutes, but was screengrabbed. Doughty replied: “‘Who?’ You’ve known me since I was 10 years old Paul…”

Not quite divisive enough

Flynn will be the main speaker in the strange debate that is going to take place in Parliament on 18 January, in response to a petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK. It is customary for a minister to be present at debates. In this case, a Home Office minister will say that Trump’s comments about Muslims are divisive and wrong, but “exclusion powers are very serious and are not used lightly”. And there the matter will rest. 

On the graveyard shift

The culture minister Ed Vaizey has a brilliant political career behind him. Before 2010, he was part of the inner circle of Oxbridge-educated former advisers known as the “Notting Hill set”, along with David Cameron, George Osborne, and Michael Gove. In 2006, he joined the Tory front bench as shadow minister for culture. Then he made the career-destroying mistake in March 2006 of telling a television documentary that Samantha Cameron might have voted Labour in 1997. 

One of Cameron’s aides went around telling journalists that Vaizey “does not know his arts from his elbow.” Today he still holds the government job that he was shadowing all those years ago, and at 2.30 this morning, a bleary Mr Vaizey was answering for the Government in a debate on the future of the Welsh TV station S4C, hours after most cabinet ministers were in bed.