Sun 22 September 2019

Otto English has one simple way to cut through the years of bickering over Britain’s exit from the EU – put Nigel Farage in charge.

In Byron’s epic poem ‘Don Juan’, he wrote: “and should I laugh at any mortal thing, it is that I may not weep”.

It’s a line that has kept popping into my head over the course of the last week. For while the Brexit Party’s undoubted success in the European Elections was depressing, there were just enough moments of light relief to keep me from outright despair.

A poll last month found that 55% of us wish the 2016 Referendum had never happened in the first place.

Take newly elected MEP Brian Montieth, a passionate Brexiteer and Brexit Party representative for the North East.

Mr Montieth doesn’t believe in freedom of movement and wants us all to leave the unaccountable EU. To that end, he’s become an MEP, taken the salary and sloped off back to his home in France – some 1,000 miles away from his constituency.

Awareness is clearly not a quality that has troubled Mr Montieth in his 61 years.

And he wasn’t the only Brexit Party newbie to be chuffed that they’d been elected to a parliament which they seek to abolish.

In his victory speech, Brexit Party Chairman Richard Tice claimed that he was “incredibly honoured to have been selected as Member of the European Parliament” – suggesting that he hadn’t read the memo that set out what his party stood for.

In truth, the EU elections have changed nothing. The Brexit log-jam has not been shifted one half of an imperial inch and Britain remains trapped in a political quagmire – while Tory MP Rory Stewart runs about the place taking selfies in an upmarket raincoat.

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The only thing seemingly uniting the country is that most Britons are heartily sick of everything – Brexit in particular.

A poll last month found that 55% of us wish the 2016 Referendum had never happened in the first place. But, short of building a time-travelling De Lorean, a new Prime Minister won’t be able to change the past – or anything much in our present.

The other EU member states have said that they’re not prepared to renegotiate the deal and whether it’s Boris Johnson, Michael Gove or Dominic Raab in Number 10, that inconvenient truth won’t alter one jot.

Clearly, it’s time for a radical rethink and some drastic ‘blue sky thinking’ and (*drum roll*) I think I’ve come up with the answer.

Let’s put Nigel Farage in charge.  

Now, before you start running and screaming for the hills, hear me out.

Speaking after his re-election as an MEP, Farage claimed that’s what he wants. He and his party’s victory was a clear mandate, he insisted, adding that he and they should be part of the negotiating team that heads to Brussels.

He didn’t mean it of course. Not one word.

For to understand Farage, you must first and foremost grasp that he’s less a politician and more a heckler. In his two decades as an MEP he has never run anything more substantial than a bar tab. In three years as a member of the hugely influential EU Fisheries Committee, he managed to turn up to one meeting – out of 42. Farage doesn’t like committees nor does he like taking responsibility.

To understand Farage, you must first and foremost grasp that he’s less a politician and more a heckler.

Farage is the political equivalent of a man in a pub, sat beneath a massive TV screen, pint in hand, shouting abuse at his team and telling them they’re doing everything wrong. He knows he will never be called on to captain or even bring the oranges onto the pitch, so he can yell “what are you doing you f*cking muppets?” all day long without fear of recrimination or risk of being called upon to strap on his boots and try and score goals.

As long as that goes on, then the myth – and it is a myth – that there is an easy solution to this catastrophic shit-shambles will roll along with it.

So let’s call his bluff. Let’s put him in charge and see what he can do. Let’s let him take the reins of the nation and show us what he’s got.

And when the curtain is whipped back, and Mr Farage and his inner circle are shown up to be nothing more than hapless charlatans proffering magic beans, then perhaps we shall all – finally – be permitted to move on from this madness and do something useful with this country.

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