Farage: Boris Needs to be Tough in the Coming Negotiations, But Britain is Now Heading in the Right Direction

Britain's Brexit party leader Nigel Farage speaks during a general election campaign event in Doncaster, northern England on December 11, 2019. - Britain will go to the polls tomorrow to vote in a pre-Christmas general election. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP) (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)
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The United Kingdom has turned a corner under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Brexit leader Nigel Farage has said, as he reflected on what awaits the nation in 2020.

Long-time pro-independence campaigner and Brexit frontman Nigel Farage — who was snubbed for official recognition for his enormous impact on British politics in the New Year’s honours list despite widespread speculation he would be knighted — was full of praise for the Prime Minister, but warned he would have to negotiate hard in the coming year.

Speaking to British talk radio station LBC, Mr Farage said Boris Johnson was “talking with a lot more positivity, I think, about Brexit and Britain’s future” and said while it was on balance unlikely the European Union would move to fully obstruct the United Kingdom in 2020 they also don’t want to see the country become an economic competitor on their doorstep.

Mr Farage said:

It’s likely to go to the wire — I don’t think the European Parliament is going to vote on this until the 30th of January so there is going to be some brinkmanship going on there. Ultimately I think they will support this, and if they didn’t goodness we will be in for a fascinating 24 hours — would Boris just simply have to leave?

I know Monsieur Barnier better than almost anybody in this country — he is utterly determined that the United Kingdom would not be able to get any competitive advantage. And that’s why I was so critical of the deal that Boris brought back from Brussels — it committed us in the political declaration to being tied, in terms of regulation, taxation and other things.

Boris has now publicly said — and written into the new withdrawal bill — that isn’t how it is going to be. So what we’re going to see is a battle of wills between the Prime Minister and Monsieur Barnier.

The comments follow warnings by top European leaders that the United Kingdom should not be allowed to flourish after Brexit, becoming a major competitor to the union itself.

An unfettered Britain allowed to set its own laws and become competitive on the global market has been referred to disparagingly as a “Singapore-on-Thames”, with Germany’s Angela Merkel warning the UK could be a rival to the EU in the same mould as China or the United States. In December, Emmanuel Macron warned London could be an “unfair competitor” after Brexit.

Because of this hard-nosed attitude towards an independent Britain — the first brick out of the European Union wall that if sucessful could encourage other freedom-minded nations to follow — Mr Farage warned that the Prime Minister would have to negotiate hard in 2020. He said: “Boris needs to be tough, Boris needs to be prepared to walk away with no deal. But for the first time, we have potentially got the upper hand in these negotiations.”

Even if no deal was struck and Boris Johnson did walk away from the European Union and declare the United Kingdom free unilaterally, it wouldn’t be bad news for business, Mr Farage suggested. He remarked: “that could happen. If it does, so what, frankly? Business adapts, we all adapt to changed circumstances, frankly.”

The veteran Brexiteer was even sanguine about a deal, acknowledging that anything Boris Johnson could negotiate would inevitably not be perfect, but accepting that. On the broad direction of travel for the coming months, Mr Farage concluded: “As a Brexiteer I know I’m not going to get everything I want, that’s just not possible. There are going to be all sorts of compromises on fisheries, I’m sure. Have we now turned the corner? Are we heading to the right place? Yes.”

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