Farage Criticises ‘Relentless March of the Puritans’, ‘Massive Increase’ of State Control During Pandemic

Former UK Independence Party leader and Brexit spearhead Nigel Farage speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 1, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Brexit leader Nigel Farage has condemned the government’s “massive increase” in state control, warning that the British people could face “long-term battles” to win back their freedoms.

Speaking to Brexit Watch, Mr Farage said: “I think we’ve been through one of the worst years of government any of us have ever experienced in our lives. In many ways, the pandemic has shown us just what’s wrong with the country. Hopeless quangos that move at the speed of a snail, government decision-making based more on followership that it is based on leadership, u-turn after u-turn… lockdown after lockdown, and a massive increase in state power and state control.”

Mr Farage, who led an investigation into pubs suffering under lockdown and how authorities entrapped one landlord into breaking coronavirus rules, recounted that a friend who had recently gone drinking in Borough Market in London said that there were ten policemen “going around the pubs, making sure people were having substantial meals, asking groups of people [if they] were all in the same bubble”.

“Is this what we’ve come to?” Mr Farage asked.

A poll by the British Beer and Pub Association revealed that nearly three-quarters of pubs have not opened due to coronavirus restrictions. Ninety-nine per cent of England is under Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions, where pubs under the Tier 3 must close if they cannot operate as a takeaway and Englishmen can only drink in Tier 2 pubs if they buy a “substantial meal”.

Referencing that Wales has now banned the sale of alcohol in pubs, Farage said: “We’ve got this relentless march of the puritans. Cromwell must be looking down upon all of this with great glee as every attempt for us to enjoy our lives or return to some normality is taken from us.”

Remarking on the government impinging on civil liberties, the Brexit leader said: “I just never thought that we would so rapidly move into this Orwellian world. We had a period of time when we were literally being ruled by ministerial diktat with no oversight from parliament whatsoever. We have seen a few changes to that, albeit under pressure.”

The British government’s emergency Coronavirus Act had given Boris Johnson and ministers powers to govern without parliamentary scrutiny, giving rise to protest from within the Conservative Party that the government was “exercising draconian powers”. After risking massive rebellion, the prime minister agreed that when the emergency act was renewed, MPs would be able to vote on key legislation.

Farage also criticised the “attitude of the authorities” and of some police forces, but particularly the government for behaving as if they “own Christmas”.

Since September, the government has been threatening to keep the country in one form or another under restriction during Christmas, offering a few days of freedom over the festive period, potentially at the cost of another lockdown.

Mr Farage saw the treatment of Christmas as another expression of how the government is controlling Britons’ freedom, saying: “It’s this whole idea that they own Christmas, they own our freedom, and they’re going to give us a few days when we can get together and celebrate Christmas.”

“I just feel that is all the wrong way round,” he said, warning: “The problem with this, of course, is that history shows that government in crises — be it war or whatever else it is — are very good at taking power for themselves, but very much less good at giving it back when those crises are over. There are some real long-term battles to be fought here.”

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