Speaking the morning after Britain’s Parliament voted to reject the Brexit deal Theresa May and the European Union had spent nearly two years crafting, Nigel Farage told the European Parliament that they had pushed their luck too far and the only route left was for a full Brexit to take place later this month as planned.
Voting against May’s Brexit ‘deal’ has set a chain of events in motion at Westminster which will almost inevitably see the British Prime Minister travel to Brussels next week to beg for a time extension to the negotiation period, cancelling the legal Brexit date of March 29th 2019.
Unusually allied in their perspectives on Brexit, both leave campaign leader Nigel Farage and top anti-Brexit Eurocrats are opposed to this extension happening. Mr Farage told the Parliament Wednesday morning that unless they wanted to see him return as an MEP, along with a “horde” of other anti-Europe members after the May 2019 election, the best option was to reject the request.
Reminding the members of the European chamber that the United Kingdom had only ever been an impediment to the European federal project and that they’d be better to just let Britain go, Mr Farage said: “…you’ve got your plan, you want a United States of Europe, you want your army, you want everyone to join the Euro, you want to get rid of the nation states.
“We’re just a damned nuisance! …there is a simple solution. And that is the British request to extend is vetoed… we leave on March 29th, most of the preparations have been done, even if there are a few short term bumps in the road.
“We leave, and both you and we can get on with the rest of our lives. That is the only neat solution ahead of us.”
The unusual situation where the best hope of the democratically expressed will of the British people to leave the European Union is now for foreign politicians to reject the request of the British Parliament and Prime Minister neatly illustrates the remarkable and convoluted mess Brexit negotiations have become after an epic two years of failed negotiations.
The United Kingdom could have left the European Union almost immediately after the June 2016 election, but instead opted to not even serve notice to the bloc until nearly a year later in March 2017 that it wished to do so, and at that stage requested a two year period of talks.
Even after the official conclusion date of those negotiations in March 2019 is over, the United Kingdom and the European Union had still agreed to potentially years of transition afterwards, meaning the United Kingdom would still in most meaningful senses be a part of the EU into the 2020s. And this is before the extension to the negotiation period, meant to finish this month and which Britain’s Parliament is expected to demand on Thursday, has been factored in.
It is against this backdrop of Brexit, which could have been enacted in 2016 already subject to these delays, that Mr Farage had previously warned that cancelling Brexit day would be a sort of Pandora’s box — if it happened once, the political class would feel empowered to do it “again and again”. He warned in February that “Voters’ fury in this scenario should be not underestimated.”
Conservative think-tank the Bow Group’s chairman Ben Harris-Quinney also expressed grave doubts over the extension period, noting how politicians had totally wasted the nearly three years since the Brexit vote so far and there was no reason to believe they would do anything else should they be given more time. He said: “Regarding any extension-Parliament will use any added time in the same way it has until now, to frustrate the will of the British public.
“There is nothing more the Government or Parliament can add to the voice of the British public – we leave on March 29th-or else.”
Speaking Wednesday morning in the chamber, Nigel Farage told Brexit negotiators in the room including Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt that they had “pushed your luck too far” and in doing so had torpedoed a Brexit deal with the United Kingdom they had spent two years crafting.
Outlining the problems they had created for themselves by refusing to budge on renegotiation with the British, Farage reminded the European Parliament they had likely just cheated themselves out of an enormous sum of money the British government had been forced into paying in return for a Brexit deal. He said: “this morning you find yourselves short of £39 billion, so I’m sure you’re feeling a bit sore about that”
Summarising the cry for freedom and liberty from foreign rule that the Brexit vote was ultimately an expression of, Farage said: “we’ve made up our minds. We don’t want to be ruled by you, we want to be ruled by ourselves.”