MATT KELLY watched Channel 4’s What the Nation Really Thinks and saw a sobering night for Nigel Farage
We’re rubbish at international negotiations, our government is the laughing stock of the planet and our economy has gone from leading global growth to also-ran. But when it comes to world-class eye-rolling, Britain is still a force to be reckoned with.
Harriet Ellis’s triple-salchow of an eye-roll silently caught the mood of the nation just as Nigel Farage blurted out his already dog-eared ‘We’re heading for a Remainer’s Brexit!’ as it became increasingly clear he was the panel patsy in Channel 4’s dramatic Brexit poll show, What the Nation Really Thinks. As Marcel Marceau famously said (and he came up with more good quotes than you’d imagine), ‘It’s good to shut up sometimes’.
If I was still a tabloid hack, I’d have been mapping out the word SPECT-OCULAR in 180-point type above a screengrab of Harriet and Nige, her eyes rolling back into her head, his jowls agape like a befuddled mutt who’s lost his stick. This maybe one of the reasons I’m no longer a tabloid hack, but boy it was great to watch the UKIP mastermind so far on the backfoot he was at times in danger of falling in the audience.
What great television that would have been, surrounded as Nige was by a small but visibly angry crowd who looked like they’d happily string him up by the brexits. Instead we had to settle for the spectacle of the Father of our Nation’s Sovereignty struggling to find the right facial expression for being publicly rumbled live on TV. He could never quite land it and kept stumbling between diffidence and shock.
It was an uncomfortable night for the Leader of Free Britain, as Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy, a man generally considered uppity at best by Ukippers, insisted on drip-feeding the bad news throughout the course of the hour-long show.
Farage, who not long ago said ‘maybe, just maybe, I’m coming around to the idea of second referendum’ was looking maybe, just maybe, like he might throw up.
The bad news was relentless. Using what was described as a ‘powerful multi-level and post-stratification model’ (where was the bloody multi-level post-stratification model when we needed it back in ’16?) Guru-Murthy revealed the mood of the nation had swung.
Britain today favours a Remain choice on any second referendum vote (43% to 37%), it thinks Brexit is bad for the economy (44% versus 31% who thought it would be good), bad for the NHS (36% versus 30%) and bad for their own household finances (38% versus 16%).
Crushingly for the EU-despising-but-soon-to-be-collecting £73k-a-year-EU-pensioner-MEP, 67% of the 20,000 people polled say they want a close relationship with the EU after we leave.
A farmer described British vegetables rotting in the ground, and for some reason my thoughts turned to our cabinet. A woman from Stoke said she hadn’t realised that being free of the EU also meant being free of the ability to export pottery as had been the case, without tax or hindrance, since we joined the EU.
To be fair, not everyone was a convert. A restauranteur said yes, he was very worried the entire catering industry was in danger of imminent collapse because of their dependency on EU migrants, but still thought he’d done the right thing in voting Leave. The mutton-chops couldn’t work out whether to cheer or boo.
Labour’s Barry Gardiner (as he is always described, though I don’t know if anyone else possesses a Barry Gardiner?) agreed Brexit was an act of economic self-harm but that he was determined to see it through because it was what The People voted for. As he said this, there was a sharp intake of breath from The People which seemed to convince him to begin upweighting the second referendum bit of Labour’s party-game policy on Brexit (a large shot of Jägermeister for every one of the six tests you can’t remember, you’ll be pissed by ‘does it protect security and prevent cross-border crime?’).
He also made sure to nod his head to the brilliant Caroline Lucas (if only the Greens weren’t so stubbornly sensible they’d be electable), standing in as the sole representative of Remain. I would have said the 48%, but that’s old data.
The poll’s punchline – and by this time, Farage was looking a bit punchy himself; a ruddy bruise setting in across his face – came towards the end as Guru-Murphy revealed the national swing to Remain had become undeniable: 54% Remain versus 46% Leave.
It was a sobering night for Farage. He couldn’t have made it to the pub until nearly last orders. And if ever a man needed a few nerve-soothing pints that night it was Nigel.
And as you’ve been telling us lot for the last couple of years, you’ve lost mate. Get over it.