Outside, it's pouring buckets. Inside, however, the small coffee shop in London's Chelsey district, the sun rises over Nigel Farage. His broad grin, reminiscent of Kermit the Frog, soothes the shop’s landlady, cook, and patrons situated deep in enemy territory.
“Outside of London, I get treated as a hero and never have to buy a drink. In London, I need full time security!” Farage often jokes. The man who heralded the biggest break in Britain's modern history is blamed by the urban elite for all the allegedly disastrous consequences of Brexit, about which the mass media never tire of casting in apocalyptic terms.
Brexit is the 57-year-old’s personal Magnus opus. Son of a stockbroker, the London native was about to dive into the world of business when he heard a higher calling. “The cause of our country breaking free from the grip of Brussels consumed me,” he says.
For two decades, Farage shuttled back and forth to the European Parliament, transforming the devil's kitchen into his stage. His devastating mockery of the dons of Brussels made him a YouTube star.
Despised by the media, Farage almost single-handedly launched referendum on Britain's exit from the EU, which won him an epoch-making victory in 2016. Ever since, he has been fiercely defending the expressed will of the people to cut the Eurocrats loose.
As Prime Minister Theresa May dithered, Farage founded the Brexit Party and launched a counter-attack. The party won the 2019 European elections which forced May to resign. "My proudest achievement," Farage boasts with a grin.
“My life has always been controversial, but never boring,” Farage explains. “Having cheated death three times, I live life to the full.”
Farage officially retired from politics this spring, but his power has only grown. The “Godfather of Brexit” can be heard and seen across Great Britain on his GB News talk show where he spars with guests over hot button issues that “no one dares touch because they are too toxic.”
Weltwoche: Nigel Farage, are you happy how the Brexit divorce is playing out?
Farage: There's a very odd thing in life, whether it's a business, whether it's betting on the horses: Losing is easy. But winning is never perfect.
Weltwoche: According the media, Brexit turns out to be Pyrrhic victory. The Brits will suffer in the end and regret the day that you brought on with the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Farage: I wasn't very happy with the Brexit deal, itself. I thought, on Northern Ireland, it was a sellout. I thought, on fisheries, it was very weak. We would have been far better off with no deal. Interestingly, on financial services, which Switzerland knows all about, there was no deal, and we're doing just great. It's been confirmed. They're clear to continue in London. There's more European business being conducted in London, now, than there was before Brexit.
Weltwoche: So, even with a bad deal, Britain is still better off outside the EU?
Farage: We're already so much better off. We have no commitments on foreign policy, which I think is very, very important. Look at the complete geographical repositioning of Britain in the world. We've got a nuclear submarine deal with Australia [the “AUKUS”]. Australia has woken up to the great threat that is posed by the Chinese Communist Party, the threat to Taiwan, the elimination of democracy in Hong Kong, et cetera. We couldn't have done the AUKUS deal as members of the European Union. We wouldn't have been allowed. There we are, little Britain. Suddenly, we've got a bigger voice and a bigger space in the world.
Weltwoche: Are you satisfied with how Prime Minister Boris Johnson is conducting Brexit?
Farage: Well, let me come to Boris later. First, I am giving you some more upsides. The vaccine rollout was classic. When we left the European Medicines Agency, The Guardian said Boris Johnson is prepared to see people die for ideology. But, actually, the European Union's vaccine rollout was decided by a virtually unknown conservative politician from Cyprus [European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides] who no one's ever voted for, and nobody can ever remove, who made a complete bloody mess of the whole thing.
Our vaccine rollout was decided by a woman from private equity named Kate Bingham who was given the job. And “Boooom!” We were miles ahead of the rest of the European Union. A clear example of how doing things for yourself can be a damn sight better than relying on a bureaucracy that is trying to please 27 other countries and can never get it quite right.
Weltwoche: How disappointed are you with the Prime Minister and his handling of Brexit?
Farage: The disappointment, apart from the parts of the deal that I would never have signed, is that we're not really taking advantage of what we used to call “supply side economics,” namely cutting regulation, simplifying regulation, lifting the burden off the backs of people. What Boris is not doing is what a conservative would do and somebody who is a capitalist would do — mainly, give ourselves the ability, through Brexit, to become much more competitive. We're not doing enough of that.
Weltwoche: Boris is not a conservative, not a capitalist, you say?
Farage: Well, no, he's not conservative. People thought they were voting for a conservative. They've got a metropolitan liberal green.
Weltwoche: Is he under the thumb of his young wife, Carrie Symonds, who is known as an eco activist?
Weltwoche: How much power does Ms. Symonds have over Boris and Britain?
Farage: “Carrie Antoinette,” as she's increasingly known. Clearly, she is an influence, but it isn't just her. Boris has done much part of the old Etonian sect. [Eton is the largest boarding school in England and one of the most expensive worldwide.] The old Etonian sect has been running the country. They have all lived in London in their big, expensive houses. They’ve all become wedded to a sort of form of green ideology. They're busy passing legislation that tries to stop us boiling lobsters or crabs. It never ends. These are the influences.
Boris has no connection with ordinary people out there. He's good at entertaining them. He's good at turning up and making them laugh and making them smile and turning a joke, or he was. He was.
Weltwoche: Whereas you seem to enjoy the bath in the crowd, having a pint with ordinary people in the pub. How would you describe the difference between Boris and yourself?
Farage: Look, Boris is an Oxbridge classicist who worked in journalism. He's actually an introvert by nature. The extrovert is actually a show that he works on. I'm a completely different character. I came into politics through business. I'm a naturally extroverted character. I love people. I love to interact. It’s fun. I think I've always had much more of a sense of what people on the ground are thinking.
Weltwoche: Do you still talk to him?
Farage: No. I did, but there is just no point. Look, he wouldn't even be there without the work that I've done or my team. Those “Red Wall” voters all came through for him because of the Brexit Party.
Weltwoche: In the beginning, it wasn't even clear if Boris would be for Brexit. He was sitting on the fence for quite a while before he jumped on the Brexit bus.
Farage: He got on the Brexit bus at five minutes to midnight. But I'm pleased that he did because it did help. It did make a difference. I'm grateful that he did. Mrs. May became the inheritor. It wasn't Boris that got rid of Mrs. May. I got rid of Mrs. May.
Weltwoche: You pinned her scalp to your belt because you launched the Brexit Party and won the European Elections in 2019, drawing support from those frustrated with the delayed implementation of Brexit.
Farage: Yes. It was very effective, very surgical. Boris Johnson is the inheritor of all of this. A lot of my supporters — a lot of people who worked hard with me, a lot of people who gave money to me — are really angry. They're really angry that the person who inherited this is not taking full advantage of what we should be doing.
Weltwoche: After Brexit, there was “Megxit.” How much damage to the Crown have Harry and Megan done?
Farage: They're clearly intent on doing as much damage as they possibly can.
Weltwoche: Would you agree with Donald Trump, who said in a recent interview with you, “Harry has been used horribly” by Megan. “Some day he will regret it”?
Farage: Sometimes, Trump has the most amazing ability to put his finger on it. I think one of the points Trump has made from the start of Megxit is the level of insult to the Queen. This is a 95-year-old woman who's given full service, who just lost her husband, and this is the way her grandchild is treating her. But look, I don't think that Harry and Megan are doing the Royal Family as much damage as I'd feared, because I think people have woken up to the fact that they're purely selfish. They're purely in it for themselves. It's a disgraceful episode.
Weltwoche: The other week, you went to Mar-a-Lago to do an interview with Donald Trump, who is a personal friend. What impression did he make on you?
Farage: I think he's very determined. He's lost weight. He looks good. He's clearly had time to play lots and lots of golf. It's good exercise for him. He's still working incredibly hard. He has an endless queue of people coming in to see him, candidates who are looking for a laying of hands, you know. [laughs]
Weltwoche: He's grooming candidates in all fifty states for the US midterms?
Farage: Yes. Absolutely. I asked him, "Are you going to put yourself front and center in the midterm campaign?” He said, "Yes! You bet.” He intends to tour the country to do big rallies. Look, there is clearly a sense of disappointment, a sense of anger over what happened last year.
Weltwoche: Why did he lose the presidential election?
Farage: COVID. COVID struck, and that led to, for the first time ever in American history, tens of millions of ballot papers just being sent out like confetti. That massively changed the turnout figures in many of the urban districts.
A lot of my Republican friends are still obsessed with the 2020 elections. I think it's a very big mistake. I believe that Trump and the Republican Party now have to focus forwards. They have to focus, state by state, on state legislatures to make sure they have an electoral system that people can believe has integrity. You have to turn that negative into a positive, going forward. There are some disagreements between the way he sees things right now and the way I see things, but he will come to that position. I'm sure.
Weltwoche: The world has changed since President Joe Biden moved into the White House. There has been complete surrender of US troops in Afghanistan. We see an emboldened China. We have a US delegation going to Vienna, talking to the Iranians, trying to bring back an atomic deal. And, now, we have Russian troops massing on the border of Ukraine. What is at stake for the free world with a weak American president in office?
Farage: Well, the point about Trump was that he was the opposite of a neocon. The neocons manifest themselves both as Democrats and Republicans. They are for constant military interference and a series of endless foreign wars that we got dragged into, as well. Trump's first instinct is not to go to war. Trump's first instinct is to negotiate.
I think even his opponents would say, in terms of foreign policy, he had a very successful four years. His adversaries knew that if they stepped out of line, he wasn't afraid to use full military might. He would use it at extremists. I don't think that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has anything to be afraid of, now. Literally, nothing to be afraid of.
Weltwoche: In other words, a weak American president invites rival powers to do whatever they like and, as a consequence, the situation in the world is getting more dangerous?
Farage: They'll take advantage of it. Also, the other point that Putin will know, and [China’s] President Xi will know, is that the unconditional, unilateral withdrawal from Afghanistan was done with no reference, with no telephone call to NATO members or to the United Kingdom. Even if there was a military response being planned, how could we trust the Biden administration to keep its word?
Weltwoche: Your encounters with the leading Eurocrats have made you the spokesman for EU critics and a YouTube star. Your tirade against the EU president at the time, Herman von Rompuy, was unforgettable. You said he had the “charisma of a damp rag” and the appearance of a “low-grade bank clerk.” And you challenged him, “Who are you? Who voted for you?” Why did your speeches work so well?
Farage: I was not just raising serious points; I wasn’t just challenging a consensus, a convention. I made people smile. That was the thing. They didn't know how to deal with me because, in the past, the critics who came along with the European project tended to be communist, Stalinist, socialist types, or they tended to be hard right figures. But none of them were ever humorous. They were always deadly serious.
Weltwoche: You have developed the philippic into an art form. How did you train your rhetoric skills?
Farage: Practicing in pubs! [laughs] The first time I got up to give a proper speech was in October 1993, and I thought, "How on earth am I going to do this?" Then, I learned that when you give a speech what you're really doing is telling a story. If you're telling a story, and if you know the story and you believe in the story, you don't need notes, because you are telling a story. So, I realized very early on that I didn't need paper. I didn't need things on screens. What I needed to do was to look at the people, connect with the people, and just let it happen.
Weltwoche: So, you just stand on the stage and let the words flow?
Farage: The great orators don’t use notes. But the fact that I get up and do it doesn't mean that I don't spend a long time thinking about a speech. I think about it for hours and hours.
Weltwoche: Is there a speaker in history that is your role model?
Farage: There are two, great, post-1945 parliamentary speakers I have watched. One is Michael Foot who led the Labour Party in the 1980s. And the other is Enoch Powell who was a senior Conservative. They were, without a doubt, the two best orators in the House of Commons, since the war.
Weltwoche: On the international stage?
Farage: I liked the way that [US President] Ronald Reagan used humor. I always enjoyed that.
Weltwoche: Is there anybody in the European Parliament who has stepped into your shoes?
Farage: There is not a “Nigel Farage” in the European Parliament, but there are a series of movements and political leaders around Europe who are heading in the same direction. The Polish prime minister and the Hungarian prime minister are interesting. But they are in a different role than I was. They're not arguing for separatism, but they're going down a path that inevitably leads to that conclusion. I think what's happening in France is fascinating.
Weltwoche: Eric Zemmour challenging President Macron?
Farage: Zemmour is the French “Trump.” He's transforming French policy. He's not a Frexiteer, but what he's arguing would clearly lead to a bus stop on that scale. The extent to which he's dragging French policy to the conservative right is astonishing. He's having the same effect on French politics that Trump has had on perceptions of China and, arguably, the same effect that I had in this country on the European debate. The big problem for many countries, when it comes to separation, is if they're members of the Eurozone, it all feels a bit too big to handle.
Weltwoche: One of the dominating figures in Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has just left the stage after sixteen, long years in power. Do you have anything positive to say about the grande dame of German politics?
Farage: No. Nothing. Literally, nothing. Whatever good she may have done in 2008, when she provided a bit of stability to the Eurozone, she destroyed it all by a catastrophic asylum policy which they have now got to overturn.
Weltwoche: Now, the Germans have a Social Democrat chancellor flanked by the Greens. What do you expect from the new government?
Farage: German decline. I think you've seen the good days of Germany. I think Germany is out of date. When you go to Germany, it feels twenty or thirty years behind this country. It feels old fashioned. The idea that Germany is the high-tech hub, the future, is for the birds. Things have changed. Inflation has actually bitten deeper in Germany than it has here. I think a government of this hue, in an inflation environment, is going to struggle with the trade union movement. It's going to struggle with pay demands. I think Germany is in for very difficult few years.
Weltwoche: Austria and Germany are imposing mandatory vaccinations to tackle the COVID pandemic. Why does a vast majority of the people succumb to dictatorial measures the likes of which not even the Chinese have imposed?
Farage: They've been indoctrinated. This is the new Black Death of 1345. A lot of people out there believe it. I've been astonished by the extent to which people have been prepared to give up their liberties. Absolutely astonished. I think mandatory vaccination is taking this too far. The line has been drawn. In Germany and Austria, if even 5% of a population refuse to comply, a law becomes unviable. They've now bitten off more than they can chew.
Weltwoche: Who profits from all of the fear mongering?
Farage: Big Pharma, obviously, is a massive one. I've had two jabs. They want me to have a booster, now. The logic of the booster is that we have another booster next June and another booster next December.
Weltwoche: Will you get the booster?
I'm not interested, and I was pro-vaccine. But, now, I’m becoming ever more skeptical as time goes on. Once again, another benefit from Brexit becomes perfectly clear. Ursula von der Leyen [president of the European Commission] is now talking about mandatory vaccination at the EU level which is very good for her husband, Heiko, isn't it? Yes. We know what he does. [Since 2020, Heiko von der Leyen has been a director of Orgenesis, a U.S. biotech company involved in cell and gene therapies.] The firm that he's gone to has just announced its Q3 figures: 425% increase, only last year. I'm thrilled for them! It’s marvelous! [laughs]
Weltwoche: Will Britain introduce mandatory vaccination?
Farage: No. That ain't going to happen here.
Weltwoche: Despite your official retirement from politics, last March, you remain center stage. You are a host on GB News and you personally venture out into the field to report on stories that “nobody dares to do because they are too toxic.” You went out into the English Channel on a small boat to document how the French navy escorts illegal migrants into British waters. How did you end up on this front line?
Farage: In May 2020, on a dull day like this, I did a little walkie-talkie video on a beach down on the South Coast, talking about the dinghies coming across the Channel. I went out at sea, and I was filming the dinghies and the French Navy escorting the dinghies over the border. We then went and filmed the four-star hotels where the migrants were being housed. I was breaking a story that nobody else would discuss, nobody else would debate.
Weltwoche: For a long time, the mainstream press ignored your story.
Farage: Even a month ago, this is a subject they didn't want to touch. Then, 27 people drowned, all of which I've been predicting for twenty months, and it becomes a story. Well, that's a classic example of a story that mainstream media doesn't want to talk about. It's too awkward. It's too difficult.
Weltwoche: Due to the migrant crisis, you published an editorial in the Daily Telegraph, a few weeks ago, contemplating a return to frontline politics. Are you seriously thinking of giving up your new career as a media matador?
Farage: I look at America, at Sean Hannity who has been doing Fox News for decades. Would Sean have a bigger effect on American public opinion as a senator? Of course not. At the minute, I'm happy where I am. I break stories. I still feel like I influence debates. I had breakfast, this morning, with a former Conservative cabinet minister who said to me, “Oh, yes. Everyone's listening. Everyone's watching!” [laughter]
Weltwoche: You now have, probably, the most powerful position that a person can have in this system where it is nearly impossible to become prime minister without being a member of one of the established parties.
Farage: In this system, it may well be. Absolutely. Either way, what I can tell you is that I'm very happy. The victory on Brexit may not be perfect, but it's pretty blooming good! I am enjoying television, which is a new departure. There's far less pressure.
Life's pretty cool.
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