Nigel Farage is behaving like a competition winner around the Djokovic family

Farage will try and spin the story differently but this, really, is the extent of it: he has attached himself to a bandwagon and been rewarded with a quick peek inside Djokovic’s trophy room

Rupert Hawksley
Monday 10 January 2022 14:45 GMT
Novak Djokovic wins appeal against deportation from Australia

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


You can really feel the excitement, the sense of anticipation, as this lucky competition winner lives out his dream. “Oh wow,” he breathes, as he steps cautiously into Novak Djokovic’s trophy room in Belgrade. “This is pretty amazing.”

For a lifelong tennis fan, it doesn’t get much better than this. To the left, glass cabinets full of Grand Slam trophies. To the right, beautiful paintings of your Serbian hero. “Hi Nigel,” a woman calls out, beckoning the man forward. Everyone else ignores him – quick tour, obligatory selfie, get the next one in.

Nigel Farage will try and spin the story differently but this, really, is the extent of it. He has attached himself to a bandwagon and been rewarded with a quick peek inside Djokovic’s trophy room. He may even secure a “Talking Pints” interview on GB News with Djokovic’s nutritionist or racquet stringer. Don’t watch this space.

The man himself was nowhere to be seen, of course. Djokovic, as you will surely know, is in Australia – and there it seems he will be staying, for a judge today overturned the decision to revoke his visa. Last week, Australia revoked the Serbian’s visa on the grounds that he had been unclear about his vaccination status and had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” for entry (the men’s world number one tennis player insists he had been granted a medical exemption).

Now, Judge Anthony Kelly has conceded that Djokovic was not given enough time to challenge the decision and has ordered that he be released from detention. It looks likely he will be allowed to defend his Australian Open title next week.

All of which is interesting enough, but it does seem fair to ask what on earth it has to do with Nigel Farage? The answer, as it so often is, is nothing. Yet here he is, placing himself at the centre of the story and rubbing his grubby mits all over the ruling.

“A huge win for [Djokovic] this morning,” he wrote on Twitter. “If the Australian government fight[s] this they will look dreadful.”

And here he is on GB News. “The family can’t believe what’s going on,” he gurgled (did he mention he knows the family?). “Is Australia a country that is based on the rule of law? Or is it a country where governments can exercise arbitrary power? I mean, frankly, if that judgement this morning is overruled, what’s the difference between Australia and a banana republic?” It is, as Farage well knows, a question that doesn’t warrant an answer.

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I made the point in a column last week that it is something of a surprise to watch Nigel Farage, former leader of Ukip and Dover-based migrant-botherer, berate a country for actually enforcing its border regulations.

Andy Murray made a similar observation this morning. “Please record the awkward moment when you tell them you’ve spent most of your career campaigning to have people from Eastern Europe deported,” he wrote on Twitter, commenting on the video of Farage in Djokovic’s trophy room.

But I was wrong. It isn’t surprising at all. Nigel Farage cares about Nigel Farage, and will quite happily get behind anything that keeps him on the airwaves. If it’s not Brexit, it’s lockdowns. Don’t be picky, let’s keep this show on the road. So what if he’s championed Australia’s strict border rules for years? So what if he has insisted Australia is key to the success of Global Britain? Forget all that, this is now about vaccinations.

It’s the spineless, chaotic behaviour of a chancer – and it’s a fool’s errand to try and make any sense of it. You might as well try and bounce a tennis ball on a cobbled street.

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