The long, hot European summer has been widely dominated by the recent events in Greece. The Referendum first, with a significant victory of the anti-austerity front, the disastrous reopening of the Athens stock exchange then are just two significant moments that caught the observers’ attention, leaving other open questions out. One of those is for sure the Brexit case, which might have been brought back under the spotlight a few days ago by one of the main political players on the British field.
Last week Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) accused British eurosceptics of having failed to do enough and to have lost grip amid a furious row over who should be the leader. Speaking last Thursday in London, Farage openly criticised the lack of an organised “No” front, saying UKIP would be ready to campaign with the other eurosceptics in the Parliament, many of whom are sitting in the Tory wing, urging them to “get off their backsides”.
“Some in the Westminster village seem so busy wondering who will lead the ‘No’ campaign”, Farage said. “They seem to spend more of their time sniping when it might be better to get off their backsides and help ‘No’ win the referendum. My faith in Tory eurosceptics was destroyed during the Maastricht debates”, he then added.
Nigel Farage’s plan
With this words, Britain’s most prominent eurosceptic officially throws light back onto the “Brexit” scene and unveils his plan. Nigel Farage said his party would launch a “major ground campaign” for the referendum, which the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold before the end of 2017 and which will be UK’s first referendum on its relationship with Europe since 1975. “In the absence of anybody else, UKIP is going to take the lead in this country”, he announced. “We are going to launch in the first week of September the biggest public outreach programme this party has ever attempted”.
If put under a strict hand lens, Farage’s moves look a bit awkward. On the same day and during the following hours after “London’s breakthrough” the UKIP’s leader repeatedly dodged questions on whether he would like to lead the ‘No’ campaign as a political choice, and said he was basically speaking out now because nobody else was doing so. He said: “Whatever my shortcomings are, and they may be many, I think I’m probably better than no one [at all] in going out to do this”. He then declared that UKIP would not be applying to lead the official No campaign, but would just “mobilise a people’s army” in favour of leaving the European Union.
Critics to a “blatant” operation
Critics to his announcement weren’t late, as Farage’s words have allegedly generate some turmoil even within the ‘No’ campaigners and inside his own party. As reported by The Guardian, UKIP leader has come under fire for creating a “blatant UKIP front operation” to ensure supporters of his party are officially designated as the main ‘No’ campaigners in the forthcoming EU referendum. The interest is huge, as the designated group for the ‘No’ campaign to millions of pounds of funding, and will also have its spokespeople and key-figures always in the limelight.
Conservative MPs are reportedly keen for having a neutral figure in that limelight, such as businessmen or former key managers of the PA, and rumours that Farage could be seen as a ‘hijacker’ in this moment, rather than the savior, are already quite spread. Farage’s aim of “re-entering the field” of active politics after UK’S general election last May left his party with some bruises is pretty clear, but it is also quite obvious that it won’t be easy for him to take the complete control of the “No” front, although he says this is not his intention.
The Brexit scenario comes in a very crucial moment for the UK. The Northern European country is one of the EU member states which is recovering better than others from the economic crises, although the situation is delicate and the inner debate is fierce. Recent reports have shown that the strength of the pound is one of the many factors that are holding back UK exports and keeping factory output barely above recession levels, despite a general rise in activity in the Eurozone.
As reported by The Independent, a new poll by ORB shows that 55 per cent of British people want to stay in the EU, with 45 per cent wanting to quit. Just one month ago the figures were basically smiling the same way at “Yes” campaigners and pro-Europeans, but a bit of uncertainty around the economy and recent immigration problems at Calais might have turned polls a bit more against the EU. No doubt it will be interesting to see what Nigel Farage’s breakthrough will do about it.