In Brief

Nigel Farage demands future role in EU talks

Former UKIP leader says victory for Brexit Party at European elections would send clear message about direction of Britain’s withdrawal

Nigel Farage has demanded a role in any future Brexit negotiation with the EU if his new Brexit Party comes out on top in this month’s European Parliament elections.

Hours before the government confirmed the UK would definitely take part in continent-wide elections, the former UKIP leader said a Brexit Party victory would amount to the country voting to leave the UK on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, otherwise known as a no-deal Brexit.

“In terms of legitimacy, if the Brexit party wins this election arguing for a WTO Brexit, and we get significant support and we win, I think we will have democratic legitimacy to have a say in how we proceed from here,” he said.

Brexit Party Chairman Richard Tice reiterated that “a vote for the Brexit party is a clear vote for a WTO Brexit, no ifs, no buts”.

“Secondly, a vote for the Brexit party is a vote that our elected MEPs should play a significant role in the future negotiating team. We will demand such a role because we will be the party with the biggest, the most clear democratic mandate to be involved with those negotiations.”

“Farage abandoned UKIP after it embraced far-right Islamophobia under its current leader, Gerard Batten, but on Brexit he is not softening his message. Far from it,” says The Guardian.

Having implied he would be happy with a Norway-style Brexit and the UK staying in the single market during the referendum he has now sought to tap into widespread anger at an alleged ‘Westminster stich-up’ to push for a clean break.

This tactic has proved remarkably successful and catapulted his nascent party from outsiders to frontrunners in a matter of weeks. Having only formally launched last month, polls have put support for the party as high as 30%, well ahead of Labour and the Conservatives.

In a bid to see off a threat from this new pro-Brexit force, Downing Street had hoped to get a cross-party Brexit deal through Parliament before having to hold elections at the end of the month.

But these hopes appear to have been dashed after Cabinet Office Secretary and de facto deputy prime minister David Liddington confirmed: “Given how little time there is, it is regrettably not going to be possible to finish that process before the date that’s legally due for the European Parliamentary elections.

“Even if an unexpected deal were to emerge in the next few days between the Conservatives and Labour, it would only be a very tentative first step towards Brexit, with no guarantee that it would enjoy a parliamentary majority” writes the BBC’s Chris Morris.

Farage has long been a disruptive force in the European parliament and a thorn in the side of the Conservatives, but now it appears he has set his sights on shaking up Britain’s democratic institutions altogether.

Stating his ambitions to break open the Westminster two-party political system and overturn the first-past-the-post electoral system, Farage confirmed his party has also begun signing up hundreds of new candidates to run for the Commons if there is a snap general election.

“For us, these European elections on May 23 are just a first step” he said.

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