Brexit crisis: will Johnson and Farage bury party differences?

Today’s unanimous verdict by the Supreme Court, ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in obtaining the prorogation of Parliament, throws the entire Brexit process into doubt.

Johnson no longer controls the House of Commons, which at any time during the run-up to the October 31st deadline could have thrown a spanner in the works, preventing either a “no deal” Brexit or whatever new terms Johnson himself might negotiate.

Neither was he able to seek a fresh mandate at a General Election: since the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 makes an early election impossible without the opposition’s consent – and there was no chance of such consent until Brexit had been delayed or frustrated. So Johnson’s team believed they could put Parliament out of action for a few weeks, leaving MPs with insufficient time for Brexit-blocking.

That cunning plan has badly misfired.

Amid the confusion one thing is clear: Brexit will be dead unless Prime Minister Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage can work together.

Leading government adviser Dominic Cummings is the main block to any deal between Johnson and Farage

Today such cooperation looks unlikely. The PM’s chief aide Dominic Cummings loathes Farage (which is the main reason why there were two rival pro-Brexit campaigns at the 2016 Referendum). That split didn’t matter during the referendum: in fact it might have been an advantage, but it would be fatal at a General Election. Farage reciprocates the loathing: his main reaction to today’s judgment was not to defend the Brexit process but to attack Dominic Cummings.

H&D readers are themselves divided on the merits of Brexit itself. But for Brexiteers the imperative is clear: Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage must not turn on each other, or the entire process will be derailed.

Brexit Party continues alliance with terror apologists

James Heartfield – Brexit Party candidate, lifelong Marxist and IRA apologist

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has often seemed to have a blind spot when it comes to Northern Ireland, and H&D has previously highlighted the disgraceful decision to field IRA apologist Claire Fox – a lifelong Marxist – as his party’s number one candidate for North West England at the European elections in June.

Though one of her fellow candidates quit in disgust, Ms Fox is now a Brexit Party MEP, and the party’s dalliance with fanatical supporters of Republican terrorists continues.

For perhaps the first time H&D readers will have found themselves agreeing to a large extent with Observer columnist Nick Cohen this week, when he pointed out that “Farage supports the old cadres of the Revolutionary Communist party, which hugged the most extreme elements in Irish republicanism”.

In fact these RCP veterans consistently pursued a pro-IRA agenda that was even worse than that of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Ken Livingstone. They were also conspiracy-minded apologists for Serbia during the Yugoslav civil war, apparently because the Serbs were fighting the Croats, who had been allied to the wicked Nazis during the Second World War!

IRA apologist Claire Fox (now a Brexit Party MEP) with party leader Nigel Farage.

One of these old Leninists, James Heartfield, will be the Brexit Party candidate for Islington North, standing against Corbyn, at the next general election. Heartfield was a Revolutionary Communist party organiser in Islington and Manchester. His wife Eve Kay-Kreizman was also an activist in the RCP and the pro-IRA Irish Freedom Network, but has since enjoyed a 20-year career as a television producer.

Other ex-RCP / Living Marxism candidates for the Brexit Party have included Alka Sehgal Cuthbert (daughter of Indian immigrants and a candidate on the Brexit Party’s London slate at the Euro elections), and Stuart Waiton (on the Scottish slate).

After the IRA murdered two schoolboys (12-year-old Tim Parry and 3-year-old Johnathan Ball) in Warrington in 1993, Heartfield’s publication wrote: “We defend the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures are necessary in their struggle for freedom.”

Nigel Farage’s struggle to free the United Kingdom from the European Union would be a lot better off without these Leninist/Fenian relics.

Titanic elects new Captain

Adam Walker won this month’s BNP leadership election, unsurprisingly as he had many life member proxy votes in his pocket!

It would once have been big news for H&D readers that both UKIP and the BNP held leadership elections this week. The fact that many readers wouldn’t even have known these elections were happening is testimony to these parties having sunk into irrelevance.

The decline of these two parties has taken two very different forms. The BNP now exists only as a means of obtaining legacies from the wills of elderly patriots, many of whom would have drawn up their wills at a time when the BNP seemed a genuine challenge to the multiracial establishment.

Cynical BNP chairman Adam Walker and his right-hand man, party treasurer Clive Jefferson, have faced two challenges this year.

One is a continuing court case seeking to reverse their abuse of the party constitution: this case is continuing and it would not be appropriate for H&D to comment further.

Those BNP activists who still want to see a campaigning political party backed David Furness’s dommed challenge for the leadership.

The other was a leadership election, in which North London activist and former mayoral candidate David Furness challenged Walker. It was obvious that Mr Furness had the backing of almost all the party’s remaining serious activists, including Brian Parker (the longest serving councillor in the party’s history); East London organiser Paul Sturdy; and Bexley activists Mike Jones and Nicola Finch.

Yet his campaign was crippled by two factors. Firstly, many who would have backed Mr Furness have already quit the BNP in despair. Secondly, it seems that Walker and Jefferson had the proxy votes of unknown numbers of life members safely tucked in their pockets.

The official result was 308 votes for Adam Walker and 161 votes for Mr Furness. This in itself indicates a significant decline in membership since the previous leadership election in 2015, when Mr Walker polled 523 votes to Paul Hilliard’s 145.

And of course if you go back to the 2011 election (only eight years ago) the BNP was unrecognisably larger: at that very close contest Nick Griffin polled 1,157 votes to 1,148 for Andrew Brons.

What now for those few true patriots in the BNP? Logically they should be seeking a new political home, perhaps in alliance with the National Front.

This week’s other leadership election was in UKIP, whose decline has been due to general crankiness and simple lack of ability, rather than the cynicism and corruption that have pervaded the BNP’s hierarchy since the Griffin years.

UKIP ex-leader Gerard Batten (left) with EDL founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (alias ‘Tommy Robinson’) whose increasingly close relationship with the party prompted Nigel Farage to resign.

Under outgoing leader Gerard Batten, UKIP drove away Nigel Farage and many other former MEPs and senior activists by pursuing an extreme and obsessive form of anti-Islam campaigning, and by building alliances with eccentric YouTube ‘stars’ such as Carl Benjamin, aka ‘Sargon of Akkad’.

Batten had promised only to be a caretaker leader after the scandal that ousted his predecessor Henry Bolton, but despite disastrous local and European election results he tried to seek a new mandate by standing in this year’s leadership election.

UKIP’s national executive refused to allow the retiring leader to stand. In a circular to members issued on July 30th, they wrote:

The NEC’s decision to exclude Gerard Batten from the ballot paper was a difficult one, and one which the NEC members knew would cause controversy whichever way they voted, and I have been asked to provide this explanation to our members.

All candidates for the leadership election were required to attend a vetting interview after which any recommendations and observations may be passed onto the NEC. The NEC had hoped to receive assurances from Gerard over his engagement with Tommy Robinson, over future “personal advisors” unapproved by the party’s governing board, whether he would be willing to engage with television and radio stations to get our message across, and whether he was willing to stand for more than a single year. Gerard knew that his candidacy would be challenged, but nevertheless chose not to attend the interview. The NEC found that Gerard had brought the party into disrepute and had failed the vetting element of the candidate requirements.

Against the NEC’s advice and wishes, he associated the party with people who did the party great electoral harm, and had, in effect silenced UKIP at a time when Brexit is and was the most pressing political issue of the day. Everyone tasked with getting the party’s message out in the European elections was stifled by questions about Gerard’s appointees. It was clear that we would be further marginalised in the future while the Party’s direction was turned from Brexit and was being dominated by people like Tommy Robinson. So unequal was that relationship, that the leader did not distance himself from Tommy Robinson, even when he stood against UKIP in the European elections.

Gerard’s strategy gave others the excuse needed to found the Brexit Party. The Brexit Party has since drawn not only millions of voters away from us, but also many of our longstanding members and elected representatives. This year might have been UKIP’s year had it not been for this leadership decision made in defiance and against the advice of the NEC. The result was that UKIP, the original party of Brexit, suffered its worst ever election defeat in recent years.

Further, it was felt that the party had greatly suffered from Gerard’s refusal to engage with TV, radio and press, thereby denying us a voice.

Finally, there was no confidence that Gerard would continue to stand as leader, having since the European elections repeatedly said that he would not, having had both his deposit paid and his nomination papers completed by Tommy Robinson supporters, and having made it clear, even at the time of the vetting interview, that he was still uncertain as to whether he would withdraw his application to stand in the election.

As is manifestly clear from our constitution, the NEC has a clear duty to safeguard the long term future of UKIP. That was the NEC’s sole intention.

These are important times for us, and the political climate is changing rapidly. UKIP needs a fresh start which will begin with the leadership election.

Alan Craig outside one of ‘Tommy Robinson’s court appearances. Craig was the main backer of former UKIP leader Batten and newly elected leader Richard Braine

At first Batten’s fellow anti-Islamist Alan Craig (former leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance) threatened to bring a legal action against the national executive on the former leader’s behalf. However this was soon dropped. Batten and Craig changed their strategy to endorse West London UKIP branch chairman Richard Braine.

And UKIP’s members went on to slap their own executive in the face and endorse Batten’s failed strategy! Braine was elected with more than 50% of the vote, ahead of three rival candidates. The full result was:

Richard Braine 2,935 votes (53%)

Freddy Vachha [London regional chairman] 1,184 (20%)

Ben Walker [Royal Navy veteran and former South Gloucs councillor] 753 (14%)

Mike Hookem [former deputy leader and ex-MEP for Yorkshire & Humber] 717 (13%)

The UKIP Titanic’s new captain is likely to order full steam ahead, and will probably appoint Batten as his deputy, surrounding himself with many of the same anti-Islam obsessives who courted disaster at the polls earlier this year.

No doubt the big winners from all this will be Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party, who can expect many new recruits from the anti-Batten wing of UKIP, though if the Conservative Party will accept them, many might prefer to join up with Prime Minister Boris and his new, supposedly pro-Brexit party.

Brexit Party struggling in by-elections

Nigel Farage – new party, same old problems

The Liberal Democrats have won yesterday’s parliamentary by-election in the rural Welsh constituency Brecon & Radnorshire, further worsening the parliamentary arithmetic for new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, making it less likely that he can achieve Brexit without a general election.

Brecon & Radnorshire was also bad news for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, whose candidate was a distant third with 10.5%. A crumb of comfort for Farage was UKIP’s embarrassment at finishing bottom of the poll with 0.7%, behind even the ‘Monster Raving Loony Party’!

Regular H&D readers will be very familiar with our long-running analyses of UKIP’s poor performance in local by-elections, which indicated a long time ago that the party was in big trouble.

Now of course UKIP is dead, and is widely seen to have been superseded by the Brexit Party, founded earlier this year by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

The Brexit Party achieved extraordinarily good results at this year’s European Parliamentary elections: 30.5% of the nationwide vote, electing 29 MEPs – easily the largest UK party at that election.

The jury is still out as to whether the election of self-proclaimed Hard Brexiteer Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and (for the time being at least) Prime Minister will end Farage’s adventure.

What does seem clear is that (like UKIP before it) the Brexit Party is struggling to turn its potential support into actual votes in local or Westminster (as opposed to European) elections.

Last week in Gloucester the Brexit Party contested two city council elections for the first time. The good news for Farage is that his party finished way ahead of UKIP. The bad news is that they finished a poor third in one and fourth in the other.

In Podsmead ward – exactly the sort of White working-class estate where the Brexit Party ought to be threatening Labour (according to many pundits) they were fourth with 16.4% (UKIP polled just 1.6%). Labour did indeed lose the seat – but to the very pro-EU Liberal Democrats, not to Farage.

In a very different part of Gloucester, Barnwood ward – equally White but far more affluent – the Brexit Party finished third with 10.5% (UKIP managed a microscopic 0.4%). Again the Liberal Democrats gained the seat, this time from the Tories.

And tonight the Brexit Party has finished a distant third in its second attempt at a parliamentary by-election. The Liberal Democrats are again the winners, but perhaps the more important story is that the Tory candidate – despite having been convicted of a criminal offence, causing this by-election in the first place – finished well ahead of the Brexit Party candidate.

It’s too early to talk about a crisis for Farage, but just a couple of months after his great Euro-election triumph, the Brexit Party is badly in need of a good result somewhere. As things stand, Boris Johnson must be tempted to call a general election – at which Farage could be sunk without trace.

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