UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage has raised questions about the intentions of his party’s only sitting Member of Parliament, Douglas Carswell MP, floating the idea that he only joined UKIP to avoid defeat in his constituency in the 2015 General Election.
In a deep-dive interview in the Guardian, Mr. Farage outlined why he believes Mr. Carswell and his cohorts in the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign have sidelined the UKIP leader – putting Conservative Party internal politics ahead of Britain’s national sovereignty.
Mr. Farage branded the Vote Leave establishment campaign “cretins”, adding: “They brief every day that I’m toxic, I put voters off, and there is absolutely no statistical evidence to back that up at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s crackers to think that you can win a referendum campaign with Boris and the likes of the cabinet. You can’t. North of Coventry I would have more impact at getting people out to vote than they would, simple as that. You know, 37% of those who voted last year voted Tory, but a couple of million of them didn’t do so with any love, did they? They did so just to stop that woman north of the border. That’s what it was all about. So, do I have an important role to play in terms of getting voters out? Yes, I do, of course I do.”
Speaking of Mr. Carswell, he said: “We have ex-Conservatives who look at the world differently to me,” adding: “I don’t understand why he would join a party like ours, with me as leader, and then disagree with the way I do things, and want to sack not just me, but every party officer, everybody in this office.” I wonder if he now feels that what had looked like a daring defection to Ukip
Gurdian interviewer Decca Aitkenhead asked if Mr. Farage feels Mr. Carswell’s defection was a “ruse to exploit a winnable seat”, to which Mr. Farage replied: “You could argue that. I mean, Clacton was the No 1 seat in Britain for Ukip.”
And he believes that Vote Leave could throw the referendum if the result is looking tight, rather than risk a narrow defeat which could see a mass of Tory Party defections to UKIP.
Casting doubt on the will of Vote Leave’s leaders to exit the EU, Mr Farage suggested that the two main figures behind the official Brexit campaign, Dominic Cummings and Matthew Elliott, both Tory insiders, are more interested in positioning cabinet ministers to succeed David Cameron than getting Britain out of the EU.
“To a lot of political operators, this is just another campaign,” he said . “To people like me, this is the campaign. So it’s a different motivation. And I think there’s a bit of hedging going on.”
“I think they’re a bit more worried about who succeeds Cameron in No 10.”
Getting their favoured candidate into Downing Street doesn’t just mean winning an internal leadership contest, however. It also involves killing off any competition on the political right and ensuring the Conservative vote holds up.
Recently, Vote Leave went to far as to threaten a major national broadcaster after they handed Mr. Farage a top slot in a town hall-style debate against Prime Minister David Cameron. The threats against both ITV and Downing Street were predicated on Vote Leave figures ousting Mr. Cameron as Prime Minister and taking control of the British government.
“They’re very scared of Ukip, you see. Because what happens if Farage is seen to play a big role in the referendum? And we win – or even worse, if we lose? What happens then?”
And, he says, losing narrowly would be worse than losing by a long chalk, as it could inspire Conservative to turn to UKIP in their droves.
“The doomsday scenario for these guys is that we lose the referendum 52/48, that I’m seen to have played a big role in the referendum, that a third of the Tory party are irreconcilable with dodgy Dave, because they think he’s pulled every trick in the book, he hasn’t played with a straight bat, and a third of the Conservative party come and join me and Ukip. That is their doomsday scenario. Anything is better than that.”
“Is he suggesting,” the Guardian asked, “they would rather lose the referendum resoundingly, and see Farage’s political capital and potential appeal discredited, than fight and risk a narrow defeat?”
He replied decisively: “Yes.”
Mr. Farage kicked off a “referendum tour” atop a UKIP double decker bus outside Europe House in Smith Square in Westminster. The building is perhaps most famous for being Conservative Party headquarters during Margaret Thatcher’s election victory in 1987.
“I have worked for this for 20 years,” Mr. Farage told AFP.
“The ‘Remain’ side have not just had the British establishment working with them but also the European establishment, the global establishment working with them.
“But there is still a long way to go and it’s a mug’s game to predict how this referendum is going to go.”