For years Nigel Farage demanded that we take back control. Unelected Brussels politicians were taking over the UK, he said. A tyrannical Bonapartist threat was sweeping over the continent. The Eurocrats were telling us how loud our lawn mowers were. It was a democratic emergency.
Now the interim Ukip leader plays a rather different tune. Overnight, US president elect Donald Trump had one of his Twitter sessions, in which he effectively demanded that the UK government make Farage ambassador to the US.
Trump’s actions couldn’t be more disrespectful towards the British public if he tried. He knows he’s the stronger partner. He knows Downing Street is desperately angling for an early meeting with him in a bid to secure a trade deal with the US and make Brexit look a success. So he applies public pressure to dictate the appointments of the elected British government. And he doesn’t want just anyone made ambassador. He wants a man who has run for parliament seven times and been rejected by voters made ambassador. He wants a man who isn’t even in the party which was elected to power.
Farage, in a moment of stunning coincidence, was on hand when the tweet went out to write a column for Breitbart, the far-right website.
The piece contains sections which are eerily reminiscent of George Galloway’s praise of Saddam Hussein. Compare and contrast Galloway - “I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability” - with Farage - “his energy and indomitable spirit are beyond doubt”. Such sweet words of love.
The timing of the Trump statement and Farage’s sudden column seems to suggest that this was orchestrated in order to force Theresa May’s hand. But Farage is very coy about it all. “Nothing could have prepared me though for what came next,” he claims. “Like a bolt from the blue Trump tweeted out that I would do a great job as the UK’s Ambassador to Washington.”
Farage says a new order is now in charge across the western world following Brexit and the Trump election. “In the United Kingdom the people have spoken but the players at the top have, I am afraid, stayed the same,” he says. In other words, this man, who has not been elected, should be installed by a government which has been elected, because of the demands of a foreign leader. Farage really has tried every way to get into power over his career and consistently failed. Now he thinks he has found a route. This way he will not need to bother with the wishes of voters.
Imagine the humiliation if May were to capitulate to this. Imagine the sight of the prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland buckling to the public pressure of a foreign leader. And look at the type of control Farage wants for this country: utter craven subservience to a foreign power, its elected government installing anyone who is requested by the larger partner.
In truth, Ukip’s Brexit plans would entail much more of this. As we leave the single market, they want a snap deal with the US, conducted in less than two years. What that means, in reality, is that we would capitulate utterly to their demands and standards. Their pharmaceutical firms would tell us to reform or scrap Nice, the body which conducts NHS assessments, because it keeps drug prices low in the UK. They would want much lower data protection laws. They would want lower chemical standards. British sovereignty would be sold off behind closed doors in Washington, just as Farage currently wants it sold off in public view on Twitter.
This is the control Ukip promotes. It is a lie to further Farage’s own personal and political interests. Nothing more. Once the offers of power and influence come rolling in, his rhetoric about democracy drifts away with the wind.
Ian Dunt is the editor of Politics.co.uk. His book - Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now? - is now available from Canbury Press.