The Week That Will Decide Nigel Farage’s Place in History

10 Nov

Nigel Farage has a big decision to make this week. He will put up or shut up. He will either put up 600 candidates to fight seats all over Great Britain, or he will pull back from the brink.

He made an offer of an electoral pact to Boris Johnson which he knew the Prime Minister would have to refuse. There is no way a Conservative Prime Minister could have agreed to stand down candidates in favour of candidates from the Brexit Party, and Nigel Farage knew it.

On Thursday, nominations close. If you haven't registered as a candidate by 4pm on Thursday it's too late. So in advance of then, Nigel Farage will have to decide what to do.

He knows that by fielding 600 candidates he runs the risk of letting Remainer MPs in, especially in the south and south west of England. Enough Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates could be elected to thwart a Conservative majority. Farage doesn't trust Boris Johnson at all. He's not alone in that, but it's significant.

Clearly there are back channel talks taking place. Andrew Bridgen seems to be laying claim to be that back channel but I doubt very much whether that is true. 

It is significant that we have heard little from Nigel Farage in the last week. He's done the bafre minimum of media appearances, and today pulled out of an interview with Sophy Ridge. One can only speculate as to why.

I think he's looking for a way to back down with honour. There are two ways this could happen. Either the Conservatives could promise to include a sentence in their manifesto making clear that a no-deal Brexit is still possible if it all goes wrong, or if a trade deal isn't agreed by December 2020. But there is another way.

Farage knows he is suffering a minor revolt among the 550 candidates so far selected. More than twenty have already declared they won't be standing because they fear they could let in a Remain supporting Labour or LibDem candidate. Tonight, the Brexit candidate for Telford added to their number.

Farage could either make a giant decision and withdraw all his candidates, or if he isn't prepared to go that far – and I suspect he isn't – he could tell all his candidates to make their own decision. I have no idea how many would voluntarily fall on their swords in those circumstances.

The third option is that he goes ahead and just stands candidates in Labour Leave seats in the Midlands and the North.

Whatever decision he makes may well decide on how Nigel Farage is viewed by history. If his decision leads to Brexit being scuppered he will not be forgiven, even by his strongest supporters. He has a chance to help secure some sort of meaningful Brexit if he does the right thing this week. 

We don't have long to wait to find out what his decision is.

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