On Brexit Eve, Tory Peers Thank Nigel Farage For his ‘Devotion to Restoring Great Britain’s Sovereignty’

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JANUARY 29: Brexit Party leader and member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage departs following a historic vote for the Brexit agreement at a session of the European Parliament that paves the way for an "orderly" departure of the United Kingdom from the EU on January 29, …
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Two Conservative members of the House of Lords intervened in the Brexit treaty debate to express gratitude to a giant of the Eurosceptic movement Nigel Farage.

Lord Howard of Rising, who voted for Britain to leave the European Economic Community in 1975 and the European Union in 2016, used the short time allocated to him to interject during the Boris Johnson EU treaty reading in the upper house to give a vote of thanks to two influential Brexiteers, Sir James Goldsmith and Nigel Farage.

On a day where much focus was on Boris Johnson — Prime Minister since 2019 — Lord Howard spoke about the Brexit veterans who laid the groundwork for today’s divorce from the European Union 30 years ago, and the British people who voted for Brexit in 2016.

Lord Howard said: “There are very many to whom we must give heartfelt thanks for what they have done to make this agreement possible. Not least the British people. There are two whose contributions deserve a special mention today.

“Sir James Goldsmith, whose creation of the Referendum Party resulted in both main parites promising a referendum before joining the single currency. Without this commitment, we would have probably joined the Euro, making our exit from the European Union considerably more difficult, if not impossible. It is sad he is not still with us to see the result to which he contributed so much.”

Goldsmith was a sucessful and bullish business tycoon, who also involved himself in politics. Quite unusually, he was a Member of the European Parliament for France and also the founder and leader of the deeply Eurosceptic Referendum Party in the United Kingdom which pioneered guerilla election tactics to sidestep the mainstream media in the 1997 general election to deliver hard truths about the European superstate project to the British people.

While the Referendum Party did not make a Westminster breakthough — in common with almost all new entrant parties in the UK, which hasn’t seen a new national party at Westminster in a century — it laid a foundation stone of Euroscepticism in opposition to the increasingly pro-Europe conservatives under John Major. This foundation be further built upon in the coming years by the UK Independence Party (UKIP) after Sir James’ death in 1997.

In his House of Lords remarks on Wednedsday, Lord Howard continued after his words about Goldsmith to speak of Nigel Farage — a lifelong political outsider who nevertheless managed to use the sucess of UKIP, and then the Brexit Party, to change the course of British poltical history, and having a major hand in bringing down two Prime Ministers — David Cameron and Theresa May.

Lord Howard said: …”Nigel Farage’s ceaseless campaigning, hard work, and devotion to restoring Great Britain’s sovereignty led to his party’s susccess in the 2014 European election. This triggered the referendum.”

Noting Farage’s effective decapitation of the Conservative party — his taking the Brexit Party from being a newly founded force to winning a national election outright in a matter of months, a national verdict on the Conservative party’s performance on Brexit that saw May step down — Howard continued: “The Brexit Party’s 2019 electoral succeess caused Theresa May to resign, and so Britain got, in Boris Johnson, a Prime Minister strong enough and brave enough to overcome all difficulties and achieve the final divorce from the European Union without making unacceptable comrpomises.

“I salute the British people, and all those who fought so hard to once again make Great Britain an independent nation.”

Lord Howard was not the only peer to cite and hail Nigel Farage in the house during the Brexit trade deal debate. Kate Hoey — recently made Baroness Hoey — a rare Labour Brexiteer and one-time minister under Tony Blair in the 1990s, praised Mr Farage in her Lords remarks. The Baroness said: “I pay tribute to the remarkable courage, fortitude and enthusiasm of all those in our country who made that brave decision to vote to leave in 2016. It is they who took the brunt of the ridicule and nasty abuse.

“Their dedication and continued support for those of us in Parliament fighting the remainers, who wanted to ignore the referendum, kept us going when sometimes it looked like we were losing the battle. That meant a lot to us.

“One other man apart from our Prime Minister who has been absolutely instrumental in getting us to where we are today is Nigel Farage, and the country, and millions of people—whatever Members of this House think—will for ever hold him in their debt. Never has a man been more attacked and vilified, yet throughout, he kept focused.”

Also speaking was Lord Hamilton of Epsom, another Conservative peer and Brexiteer in the upper chamber. Not only did the peer pay tribute to Mr Farage, he also expressed his outrage that Nigel Farage — given his outsize influence on British politics — had not yet been made a member of the House of Lords himself.

Lord Hamilton told the Lords: “This is a very great day for me, for two reasons. First, we are finally unshackling ourselves from the EU. Secondly, it is my birthday. I can think of no better way to spend one’s birthday than being here on this historic occasion.”

Warming to the theme, the peer remarked:

[…the referendum was not caused by] Tory splits. It was for the very simple reason that many Tory Members of Parliament, particularly those in marginal seats, were challenged at the time by Nigel Farage and UKIP, who were undertaking to stand on the basis that there would be a referendum on whether we stayed in Europe or not. A number of Tory MPs came to David Cameron and persuaded him that we must put it in our manifesto as well. As a result, a number of votes moved over to Tory MPs and saved their seats. As we know, it turned out that there was an overall majority.

I have a theory—I do not know whether it is true—that David Cameron was looking at the polls and expected that he would end up with another hung Parliament and a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Was it possible that he thought that, if so, he would make it a condition of going into coalition with the Liberals that they dropped any commitment to a referendum?

As it is, I join the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, in commending Nigel Farage and UKIP. They have made a material difference to this country. It is shameful that he is not in your Lordships’ House. You do not have to agree with somebody to accept the major contribution they have made. He was pivotal to this referendum being held, and as a result, we are now leaving the EU. To this day, he has substantial support in the country, and I do not know how many Members of your Lordships’ House can say that.

The United Kingdom legally left the European Union on January 31st 2020, although it at that time entered a so-called transition period, meaning the nation remained inside the EU in all but name — a non-voting member for 11 months. That period will expire at midnight Brussels time Thursday, 31st December 2020.

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