Delingpole: Conservatives Should Stop Smearing Farage as the Enemy of Brexit

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Nigel Farage is putting ego before country and destroying Brexit.

This is the narrative being assiduously promoted by the Conservative party — including by Farage’s most natural sympathisers on the right. (It is, as Melanie Philips says, a blue-on-blue onslaught.)

But let’s not forget it is a narrative. Britain is now in the midst of a short but definitely not sweet general election campaign in which every party, every candidate, will happily sell their grandmothers into slavery if it grabs them a few extra votes.

Clearly the order has gone out from Conservative HQ to get Farage, destroy Farage, because though his Brexit Party is not the force it was, it still commands enough of the Brexit vote to threaten Boris Johnson’s chances of a decent majority — or, indeed, any kind of majority at all.

It’s a line that has had quite a lot of traction with the Brexit-voting public, too. The polling suggests that quite a few Brexit Party sympathisers are coming round to the idea that Boris is their best hope of getting meaningful Brexit.

I agree. But I’m still not buying into this Evil Nigel Farage Selfish Destroyer of Brexit trope that’s currently so fashionable and I don’t remotely regret my recent piece celebrating Nigel’s/the Brexit Party’s stubborn refusal to take a back seat to the Conservatives as a good thing.

So long as the Brexit Party continues to command the votes it does it would be madness for Farage to give up on his bargaining chip — or, if you prefer, his medium-sized stick.

This is especially true given today’s developments, in which we’ve seen a slight Brexit Party comeback. The Brexit Party is not over yet…

And thank goodness for that. If Farage isn’t there to keep the Conservatives honest on Brexit — and on Thatcherite principles generally — then what is there to stop the Tories going back to business as usual and reverting to the spineless squishery which has been the hallmark of every Conservative administration since the 1980s?

I’m encouraged to read at Guido that, behind the scenes, the European Research Group (ERG) has been working to “broker an understanding” with Farage.

This doesn’t involve a “deal”, exactly. But it does definitely move Boris’s position on Brexit closer to Farage’s.

Several ERG MPs also met with Boris this morning in CCHQ, where Tory candidates and MPs were taking photos with the PM for election literature. The ERG want the Tory manifesto to include an explicit reference that the aim of the next phase of negotiations with the EU is for a simple [Free Trade Agreement] and that if no agreement is made by the end of 2020, Britain will leave on WTO terms. Last week The Times reported that Boris will remove the threat of ‘No Deal’ from the Conservative manifesto, however, several ERG MPs have told Guido this would be akin to “surrender”. Steve Baker tells Guido: Having condemned the Surrender Act it would totally bizarre to enter FTA negotiations and rule out leaving with No Deal.”

Certainly, it’s vital that the No Deal option should be included in the Conservative manifesto. This would allay at least some of the grave concerns raised by Melanie Philips, viz:

What if Farage is right, and Johnson’s deal will deliver not Brexit and an end to this agony but three more years of debilitating and destructive argument with the EU, in which they hold the whip hand over the UK and tie it up in such economically damaging knots that the country would then beg to stay in the EU as the least worst option?

Given half the chance, obviously, the Conservatives would like to win a stonking majority — allowing them to form a government in which they are no longer beholden to any other party, be it the DUP or any other. Because they see themselves as the “natural party of government” they naturally consider it demeaning to have to negotiate policy with political rivals, especially if it’s with a bunch of upstarts like the Brexit Party.

But just because the Conservatives wish it so doesn’t mean it must be so.

Unlike some of you, I don’t think the Conservative party should be written off just because of its failure to do anything conservative for the last thirty years: that was a function of its leadership — and its leadership was dreadful.

I do very much think, however, that its current leader Boris Johnson needs to be watched like a hawk to ensure that he takes the party in the right direction — rather than succumbing to his squishy One Nation tendencies, which already on the campaign trail are bringing out the worst in some of his ministers.

This is why we need Farage, waving his medium-sized stick for as long as possible, in order to keep the Conservatives on the straight and narrow.

If Farage and the Brexit Party do end up fulfilling their threat to contest every seat and if they do weaken the Conservatives’ majority or, worse, end up putting Jeremy Corbyn’s terrorist-supporting Socialist loons in power, then I’d say it will be at least as much the fault of the Conservatives as it is of Farage and the Brexit Party.

It takes two to tango. For the Conservatives arrogantly to spurn and to refuse to find any accommodation with their most natural supporters on the right, while simultaneously prostituting themselves for the votes of the Greens and Lib Dems who instinctively despise them, would be a betrayal of everything we have learned from Brexit.

What we have learned from Brexit is that the Conservative party’s natural and proper and winning constituency is the same one that gave Margaret Thatcher three terms of office: the aspirational workers; the sensible solid middle class of the shires and the suburbs.

If Boris betrays that constituency then we might almost have not bothered with Brexit which, of course, was never just about Europe, but about frustration with the very kind of politically correct metropolitan elite which Boris is currently courting…

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