Nigel Farage talks partnership with Boris Johnson
Back in the middle of the EU referendum in 2016, I was approached by senior people involved in the Grassroots Out campaign group founded by Tory MP Peter Bone and involving Nigel Farage and others to get the Daily Express’s backing for a bold plan.
The idea was that Farage and Boris Johnson would share a platform near the end of the campaign to push through a Leave result.
The Daily Express got behind the idea and we even ran a front page urging this to happen.
It would have brought together the two Leave campaign groups of Grassroots Out and Vote Leave and shown a united front among the Brexiteers.
Of course, it did not happen and that was because of the hyper-controlling nature of Vote Leave, which was being essentially run by Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove, both of whom hate Farage.
But also, because Boris Johnson himself did not want to do it.
In the end, the event did not prove necessary with Leave winning anyway and soon after Mr Farage announced his retirement from politics prior to making a comeback as leader of the Brexit Party a few years later.
But now with Mr Johnson effectively forced out of Parliament by first a coup by Tory MPs and now, in his words, a “kangaroo court” with the Privileges Committee, there seems no doubt that he is right about the ultimate target – unpicking Brexit.
As the former Prime Minister noted his removal and discrediting was “a necessary first step” by the establishment to undo Brexit.
Given the evidence of the anti-Brexit nature of the civil service, the type of Tory MP who installed Rishi Sunak and more it is easy to see why Mr Johnson and his supporters believe that.
The Tory civil war certainly leaves a space open again to Farage and the Reform Party.
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But an alliance with Boris Johnson would in many ways be the dream team.
For years now I have had various Conservatives including MPs on the right of the party and people connected to Reform UK (the successor to the Brexit Party) who make no bones about how they would love that idea.
As one Tory MP put it once to me: “Farage and Boris are the dream team we have always wanted and needed.”
There is no doubt that Farage himself now wants it and sees an opportunity for it to happen.
But it is highly unlikely that it will come together and if it did we have to wonder how long it would last.
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Just before Mr Johnson was forced out last year, I had dinner with a member of his cabinet.
The senior minister was frustrated as were many Tory MPs on the right that Mr Johnson’s policy agenda had been so liberal and “not conservative”.
Things like pursuing Net Zero, failing to tackle woke indoctrination in schools, a light-touch approach to the trans debate, high taxes, failures on stopping the small boats, and the list went on.
The minister confided: “The problem is that Boris’s greatest fear is being described as ‘the British Trump’. He keeps referring to it. Every time he is about to do something conservative, he pulls back because of that.”
That in a nutshell highlights the problem.
If Mr Johnson were to do a deal with Farage – Trump’s best political friend and ally in Britain – he would be embracing that role.
He would also need to drop the liberal agenda and embrace conservative policies – which most of his supporters would dearly love him to do.
But while Johnson in recent days has been talking about conservatism the liberal agenda is close to his heart.
He even gave a speech in the 2016 referendum on “the liberal case for Leave.”
It was a bit of a waste of time, but it underlined his own political values.
All this means that, just as in 2016, it feels extremely unlikely Johnson would like to team up with Farage.
And that is before you try to fit into vast egos who cannot stand leadership rivals in the same room.
The only reason it would happen is out of necessity but even then, such an alliance would struggle to survive.
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