Express & Star comment: A troublemaker on a mission
Few politicians revel in the role of troublemaker as much as Nigel Farage does.
The Brexit Party leader has made a career out of sticking it to the establishment, often providing an unwelcome and often sizeable challenge to the main parties’ collective grasp on power.
Of course, his most notable intervention came in the 2016 EU referendum, when as leader of Ukip he contributed towards the Leave victory that the metropolitan elite had failed to see coming.
His return to the political limelight has ostensibly been spurred on by what he regards as Parliament’s abject failure to deliver the result of that vote, along with, it is fair to assume, a sprinkling of personal ambition.
In his own eyes he is back by popular demand, self-cast in his favourite dual role as the political classes’ nightmare and protector-in-chief of Brexit.
He certainly puts the Tories in an awkward position. Boris Johnson and his Cabinet may not appreciate Mr Farage’s return to the spotlight, or want him to have anything to do with mainstream politics, but they cannot simply pretend he is not there.
Like him or loathe him, Mr Farage will be a major player in how Brexit evolves over the coming months. He could even be the difference between the UK finally leaving the EU, or being entwined with Brussels for the foreseeable future.
Boris Johnson is involved in a high stakes game of brinkmanship with Michel Barnier, with the ‘endgame’ revolving around the threat that if the we don’t get a new deal, Britain will leave without one on October 31.
For the Prime Minister, the Brexit Party poses an added complication. He knows that if candidates from Mr Farage’s party stand in the next general election, there is a serious risk of the Leave vote being split. But Mr Johnson is also aware of the potential long-term consequences of cosying up to a man considered toxic by many.
Like the Lib Dems, the Brexit Party has a crystal clear position when it comes to Britain’s future relationship with Europe. For the Government, attempting to sideline Mr Farage is a dangerous policy that could endanger Brexit and put the future of Mr Johnson’s fledgling administration in jeopardy.