Skip to main content

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.

Farage plays his Trump card

The founder of the Reform Party may seem to be finished in British politics. But he is still capable of causing untold damage

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

What do you do when you haven’t the gumption to stand as an MP for the party you founded? If you’re Nigel Farage, the answer’s simple. You consider emigrating.

“I do actually have a very firm job offer on the table from America, which is very, very tempting,” Farage told Talk TV. More than half a million people left the UK last year, after all.

New European readers may not be particularly distressed by this news. But should we be? Perhaps Farage can do even more damage over there than he has already managed over here. He appears to think so.

Despite having declined to stand for Reform, Farage is currently campaigning for them – or perhaps for himself. On Sunday, he attracted huge social media attention after telling Sky News of his fears of “a population explosion” and “a growing number of young people in this country who do not subscribe to British values”. On Tuesday, there was more of the same after he won a televised apology from BBC News presenter Geeta Guru-Murthy, who cut away from footage of Farage speaking in Dover with the words, “Nigel Farage with his customary inflammatory language there at a Reform UK press conference.”

But while Farage is currently in the UK, his thoughts remain very much across the Atlantic. He has ruled out the chance of becoming British ambassador to the US, realising that Keir Starmer is never going to make that concession to Leave voters. “It would indirectly be to help Donald Trump’s campaign,” he said.

The “indirectly” is the interesting bit, given that Farage has been shilling for Trump since he first ran for president. What exactly could be indirect about this support? Or might it be… that the job offer is, as they say, informal?

It is possible that Trump’s sweet talk has gone to Farage’s head. “Is that Nigel Farage, by the way? Stand up, will you, I’m just lookin’ at this handsome guy,” Trump growled at the Iowa caucus in January. “He’s been a backer of mine from day one… You look great, I love these suits, you know how to dress over there.”

Whatever this “confidential” post is, Farage needs it. Brexit has been an abject failure. The party he painstakingly infused with his own values is about to get kicked out of office. Reform’s ideas for stopping small boats, the issue that matters most to its voters (“pick up migrants out of boats and take back to France”) are risible.

All that Reform can do now is to shrink the Tory vote further, and even that doesn’t guarantee that the Conservatives will put Suella Braverman in charge. Next to younger European populists such as Jordan Bardella, Giorgia Meloni and André Ventura, the 60-year-old pinstriped Farage looks jaded.

Unless he’s the warm-up act for a 77-year-old, of course. Pacing the stage at the right wing US convention CPAC in February, his staccato delivery frequently halting for laughter that seldom came, you had the sense that Farage had given up on Britain.

British politicians were “cowed, scared”, he said, vaunting the “Judeao-Christian values” and “western civilisation” that he believes Trump represents and which he said were threatened by pro-Palestinian demos in London. Was it for this we left the EU, he might have asked, but didn’t. Instead, he praised the populist Argentinian president, Javier Milei, and the far right parties hoping to win big in European Parliament elections in June.

“I was the first populist. I was the first one doing it,” he told the audience. Don’t you forget about me was the subtext.

British politicians have a tendency to overestimate their importance to America, and Farage is no exception. In this narrative, the audacity of Brexit provided the impetus the US needed to vote for Trump. The country then rejected Trump (of course, other accounts of the 2020 presidential election are available), and Britain took fright when it realised the true possibilities of Brexit and succumbed to a watered-down version.

But in the Farage version, just as the US is realising the mistake it made in electing Joe Biden and will re-embrace Trump, Britain – chastened by the success of far right parties in Europe – will quickly tire of Labour and demand their populists back.

Always dismissive of supranational institutions, Farage has no time for Nato: he believes it provoked Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, and that the UK is wrong to let British-made missiles be used to attack Russia. (“Cameron has poked the Russian bear with a stick,” he told GB News. “This is complete and utter madness.”)

Escalating the war in this way, as he sees it, increases the likelihood of Russian-orchestrated attacks on UK infrastructure. That view is shared by Dominic Cummings.

In Farage’s vision for the 2020s, the far right parties in the European Parliament put aside their differences after this month’s elections and form the second-largest bloc. Donald Trump wins in November and immediately pulls support for Ukraine (“We need to make sure our big, beautiful weapons aren’t being wasted”).

Alarmed at the prospect of Alternative für Deutschland winning control of the Bundestag next year, Germany also stops supplying arms, and promises to prioritise defending its own borders. Russia takes control of most of Ukraine; its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is replaced by a Kremlin-friendly president who rigs the subsequent election.

Marine Le Pen secures the French presidency in 2027. European countries and the UK increase their defence spending as the price of America’s continued participation in Nato, but there is still enormous uncertainty about whether Trump would actually defend the alliance’s members in central and eastern Europe.

Keir Starmer’s hopes of better defence co-operation with Europe falter, because all are focused on defending their national borders from migration or Russia. Putin masses troops on the border of the Baltics, but he wouldn’t, would he?

What, then, does Farage really want now? He wants to demonstrate how impotent international institutions are in the face of an existential threat. He wants to appease Putin and force European nations to do the same or prepare for war with Russia.

That would suit Trump just fine. It may not amount to a job offer, but that isn’t the point: if you can get someone who did manage to get elected to listen to you, you can do a surprisingly large amount of damage.

Ros Taylor hosts the Oh God, What Now?, Jam Tomorrow and Bunker podcasts, and is the author of The Future of Trust (Melville House)

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.