Remember back in those halcyon days before Brexit when David Cameron kept telling us we had to remain in the European Union because “we’re not a nation of quitters”? How spectacularly ironic that seems now after the resignation of Nigel Farage. Hot on the heels of Boris Johnson and Dave himself, Farage has now decided he’s “done his bit” for the country and should step aside.
What a truly noble politician he has turned out to be: happy to do the hard work when the country needs it (floating down the Thames in a boat decked out with colourful banners, exchanging light-hearted hose fights with Bob Geldof), but ready to lend his support to a (nameless) “Brexit prime minister” when the country has reaped the benefits of his honourable aims (a damaged currency, recruitment freezes, rumours of banks moving to Paris, an insecure future for our thousands of hard-working EU immigrants and British ex-pats living elsewhere in Europe, the looming possibility of a “Brexit bubble” in the housing market and intergenerational warfare).
A lot of unbelievable things have happened in UK politics in the past week and a half, but our three most prominent politicians from the EU referendum debate flinging themselves like rats off a sinking ship is probably the most astonishing.
Nigel Farage's most controversial moments
Nigel Farage's most controversial moments
1/12 When he unveiled that 'breaking point' poster during the referendum
Mr Farage was accused of deploying “Nazi-style propaganda” when he unveiled a poster showing Syrian refugees travelling to Europe under the next “Breaking point”. Users on social media were quick to compare the advert to a Nazi propaganda film with similar visuals and featuring Jewish refugees. The poster was particularly controversial because it was unveiled the morning of the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox
2/12 When he said he’d be concerned if his neighbours were Romanian
In May 2014 Mr Farage was accused of a “racial slur” against Romanians after he suggested he would be concerned living next to a house of them. “I was asked if a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned? And if you lived in London, I think you would be,” he told LBC radio during an interview. Asked whether he would also object to living next to German children, he said: “You know the difference”
3/12 When he said the EU campaign was won 'without a bullet being fired'
Nigel Farage has said the next Prime Minister has to be a Leave supporter
4/12 When he resigned as Ukip leader and came back days later
After failing to win the seat of South Thanet at the general election, Nigel Farage stepped down as Ukip leader – as he had promised to do during the campaign. Days later on 11 May he “un-resigned” and said he would stay after being convinced by supporters within the party. We’ll see how long his resignation lasts this time
5/12 When he blamed immigrants for making him late
Mr Farage turned up late to a £25-a-head ‘meet the leader’ style event in Port Talbot, Wales in December 2014. Asked why he was late, he blamed immigrants. “It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here - it should have taken three-and-a-half to four,” he said. “That has nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a country in which the population is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be”
6/12 When he wanted to ban immigrants with HIV from Britain
Mr Farage has used his platform as Ukip leader call for people with HIV to be banned from coming to Britain. Asked in an interview with Newsweek Europe in October 2014 who he thought should be allowed to come to the UK, he said: “People who do not have HIV, to be frank. That’s a good start. And people with a skill.” He also repeated similar comments in the 2015 general election leadership debates
7/12 When he defended the use of a racial slur against Chinese people
Defending one of Ukip’s candidates, who used the word “ch**ky” to describe a Chinese person, Mr Farage said: “If you and your mates were going out for a Chinese, what do you say you're going for?" When he was told by the presented that he “honestly would not” use the slur, Mr Farage replied: “A lot would”
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
8/12 When he said parts of Britain were ‘like a foreign land’
The Ukip leader used his 2014 conference speech to declare parts of Britain as being “like a foreign land”. He told his audience in Torquay that parts of the country were “unrecognisable” because of the number of foreigners there. Mr Farage has also previously said he felt uncomfortable when people spoke other language on a train
9/12 When he said the British army should be deployed to France
At the height of trouble at Britain’s Calais border Mr Farage proposed a novel solution. The Ukip leader called for the British army to be sent to France to put down a migrant rebellion. “In all civil emergencies like this we have an army, we have a bit of a Territorial Army as well and we have a very, very overburdened police force and border agency,” he said. “If in a crisis to make sure we’ve actually got the manpower to check lorries coming in, to stop people illegally coming to Britain, if in those circumstances we can use the army or other forces then why not”
10/12 When he said breastfeeding women should ‘sit in the corner’
Mr Farage sparked protests from mothers after he told women to “sit on the corner” if they wanted to breastfeed their children. “I think that given that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn’t too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that's not openly ostentatious,” Mr Farage said. He added: "Or perhaps sit in the corner, or whatever it might be”
11/12 When he said the gender pay gap exists because women are ‘worth less’
At a Q&A on the European Union in January 2014 Mr Farage said there was no discrimination against women causing the gender pay gap. Instead, he said, women were paid less because they were simply “worth far less” than many of their male counterparts. “A woman who has a client base, has a child and takes two or three years off - she is worth far less to her employer when she comes back than when she went away because that client base won't be stuck as rigidly to her portfolio,” he said
12/12 When he said he actually couldn’t guarantee £350m to the NHS after Brexit
During the EU referendum campaign the Leave side pledged to spend £350 million a week on the National Health Service – claiming that this is what the UK sends to Brussels. Nigel Farage didn’t speak out against this figure and also pledged to spend EU cash on the health service and other public services himself. Then the day of the election result he suddenly changed his tone, saying he couldn’t guarantee the cash for the NHS and that to pledge to do so was “a mistake”
“Don’t Be A Quitter” Dave, having dreamed up the referendum as an amazing idea to win an election with no long-term consequences, was the first to announce that he’d decided quitting wasn’t shameful or un-British after all, so see you later. Boris Johnson, who managed to change the global political landscape in the name of a career-boosting campaign he didn't appear to really believe in, seemed so devastated the gamble actually paid off that he decided he wasn’t the man to run the country either.
Now Nigel Farage, a man whose entire political career revolved around the push for UK independence, would rather not make any further public pronouncements about Brexit, thankyouverymuch.
After all, he just supported the idea of independence. Why should he stick around and dirty his hands with practicalities? It’s the UK Independence Party, not the What The UK Should Do After Independence Party!
Anyone devastated about seeing the back of Farage can comfort themselves with the fact that this isn’t the first time he’s quit, so he might well rejoin politics when it seems like an easy job again.
In this post-satire political landscape, our own Prime Minister quit because he didn’t want Brexit, the two most vocal Brexiteers have decided not to continue on either, and everyone is up in arms about why the Leader of the Opposition won’t quit as well. Remember when taking responsibility for one’s actions was part of the job description of politicians – particularly prime ministers? Me neither, but I have a dream that one day that might become part of our cultural reality.
Cameron, Farage and Johnson collectively crafted one of the most tumultuous weeks in the history of modern British politics. Every one of them is responsible for the uncertain future we now face and we’re watching them remove themselves from positions of responsibility, one by one. Financially battered, racially divided, politically damaged and chronically demoralised, we’ve been left marooned on a tiny island by a bunch of bickering schoolboys waving off Farage as he sails away into the sunset.
So long, Nigel, and thanks for all the fish.Reuse content