In a bid to restore his dwindling popularity amongst Brexiteers, Nigel Farage announced that his party would not stand candidates in the 317 seats the Conservative Party won in the 2017 general election. With this move he quickly won back those supporters who were beginning to understand that Farage’s sole intention has always been to remain as relevant as possible, as seen when ‘Mr Brexit’ himself called for a Brexit extension in October 2019. A blatant attempt to stop himself from becoming irrelevant.
This move however, isn’t all it seems. The Brexit Party is still standing in key marginals such as Peterborough, where the Conservative candidate, Paul Bristow, is a staunch Brexiteer who will ensure that we ‘Get Brexit Done’, yet the Brexit Party candidate, Mike Greene, refuses to stand down. This makes the re-election of a Corbyn loyalist, and with that the chances of Article 50 being revoked, all the more likely.
The question however remains: what will the Brexit Party, if they have any candidates elected, do to actually deliver Brexit?
As it stands, they oppose the only remaining option that would ensure Britain leaving the European Union: the Prime Minister’s deal. Their opposition to the deal is nuanced and by many accounts unfounded. It is also incredibly ideological. To them anything short of a WTO (World Trade Organization) Brexit is unacceptable and something they are unwilling to support. This is a ridiculous stance, as not only will a ‘no-deal’ Brexit never happen, but it is the very notion that they would rather accept the uncertainty of a ‘no-deal’ than the certainty a deal would provide.
It is this attitude that confirms the priorities of the Brexit Party: Farage, followed by Party, followed by Country. They would rather gamble with the safety of the people of Northern Ireland by plunging them into even greater uncertainty around the border, than back the deal, which ensures no hard border and the certainty that the people of Ireland are crying out for.
Brexit is more than just the terms of any Withdrawal Agreement, it is just as much about the future we seek to forge once we have left. The Brexit Party intends to nationalise British Steel, abolish the House of Lords, who play a vital role in keeping the Government in check, since their ability to do so comes largely from their unelected nature, as well as changing the electoral system where there is a very little desire for change, as shown in the 2011 AV referendum.
This vision of the future is rather pessimistic compared to the Conservatives who want to seize the opportunities presented by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The Brexit Party's vision is of a Britain of the past, one with nationalised industries, rather than a Britain of the future that entices businesses to Britain to upgrade the northern industrial towns through job creation. The Conservatives are the only ones who are planning to create these jobs, invest in these areas and regenerate the North as it so desperately needs. Only one party can actually deliver this vision of the future: the Conservatives.
Is this to say that the Brexit Party never had a purpose? Of course not. They proved to be a very effective pressure group. But they were never much more than that. Their victory at the European Elections seemed to have been an effective motivator for MPs to find a deal, but since their election they have done little more than make speeches riddled by sound bites and vote against legislation to offer EU support to Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe and against an investigation into electoral interference from Russia.
All the evidence suggests that, if they were to win any Parliamentary seats, they would continue to disregard what their jobs actually entail. Their potential constituents, many of whom are angry at being ignored by politicians, deserve better than to have non-existent representatives who are too busy fulfilling American talk show commitments.
The Brexit Party is not the answer. No matter how angry someone might be about the delays to Brexit, and I completely feel that frustration, the Brexit Party is not the way to end it. Boris Johnson has a deal and a deal that achieves much of what was promised in the referendum. Farage’s ideological quest for ‘no-deal’ is not the way to pursue this. It would be gambling the future of this country in a bid to keep him relevant and that is not a gamble any voter should see worth taking.
A vote for the Brexit Party is a vote for Labour. Don’t believe me? Just look at Peterborough and Brecon and Radnorshire by-elections where an anti-Brexit Corbynite was elected due to the Brexit Party splitting enough votes. The question Brexit Party voters should ask themselves is: is the risk of a Corbyn Government a price worth paying to signal your frustration with recent events?
I suspect the answer from many will be: no. And it is for this reason, that The Brexit Party is not the answer.