UK’s Nigel Farage demands a seat at Brexit talks, Latest World News - The New Paper

UK’s Nigel Farage demands a seat at Brexit talks

This article is more than 12 months old

His Brexit Party wins big in Britain's European Parliament election

SOUTHAMPTON: Bombastic commodities broker-turned anti-establishment supremo Nigel Farage demanded a seat at Brexit negotiations yesterday after his new party swept to victory in Britain's European Parliament election, warning that he would turn politics upside down if denied.

Mr Farage's Brexit Party benefited from people's anger at both the Conservative and Labour parties for their poor handling of the Brexit issue.

In Europe too, mainstream, long-established political European parties of both the left and right of the spectrum lost heavily, as voters throughout the continent switched their loyalties to a variety of smaller and sometimes fringe movements.

As Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party prepares to pick a new leader, Mr Farage had a warning for the next prime minister - he wants to have a say in Britain's biggest decision since World War II.

"We should be part of the team now, that is pretty clear," Mr Farage said at an election count in the English city of Southampton.

After repeated delays to Brexit, Mr Farage said Britain had to leave the EU on Oct 31, the current deadline for Britain's Parliament to agree an exit deal. Mr Farage would prefer to leave without a deal.

"If we don't leave on that day, then you can expect the Brexit Party to repeat this kind of surprise in the next general election," he said.

While no British leader would allow Mr Farage near EU divorce talks, his proven ability to poach Brexit supporters from both the Conservative and Labour parties will stiffen a belief among leading Conservatives vying to replace Mrs May that they must go for a more decisive split from the EU.

Mr Farage, often pictured with a glass of beer and an elastic grin, is one of Britain's most recognisable politicians with a rare capacity to polarise opinion. He once posed with US President Donald Trump in a gilded lift, enraging the British establishment.

His flair for capturing the anger and disillusionment of Britain's working classes regularly brought crowds out to hear him speak during an energetic campaign focused on deprived post-industrial areas of the country where voters feel left behind.

Critics accuse him of stoking anger over issues like immigration, and offering popular but simplistic solutions to complex problems like Brexit. One voter expressed his anger by showering Mr Farage in a milkshake during a campaign appearance.

Despite spending two decades as an elected member of the European Parliament and making seven unsuccessful attempts to win a seat in the British Parliament, he casts himself as an outsider shouting truth at a shambolic political elite.

"There is a huge message here, the Labour and Conservative parties can learn a massive lesson, though I don't suppose they actually will," he said. - REUTERS