The night Nigel Farage and his devotees lived their Brexit dream

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK

“We wanted to come and thank Nigel personally.”

Britain’s 11pm departure from the EU was so monumental in the eyes of Nigel Farage’s supporters that one of them, Maureen Finlay, braved a 10-hour bus journey from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in order to see him speak in Parliament Square.

This was her verdict: “He just nails it every time, everything he says. There’s no lies, there’s no hyperbole. It’s all just absolutely spot-on, true and genuine.

“I didn’t think this day would come.”

Maureen Finlay, second left, in Parliament Square (James Morris)
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage gestures to the crowd from the stage in Parliament Square after addressing thousands at the Leave Means Leave party. (Getty)
Farage gestures to fans through his car sunroof as he exits the Leave Means Leave Brexit Celebration in Parliament Square. (Getty)

Another Farage devotee, 48-year-old James Axten, compared Brexit’s cultural significance to that of England’s 1966 World Cup win.

Mr Axten, who travelled to Westminster from Oxfordshire on Friday, told Yahoo News UK: “I felt drawn to come here tonight. The last time I felt drawn was when I watched Princess Diana’s coffin go down the M1.

James Axten in Parliament Square (James Morris)

“My father-in-law talks about being at the historic event of 1966 to his grandchildren. Maybe I can speak to my grandchildren and tell them that I was at this historic event.”

Another supporter, Michael Wiltshire, 40, from Eltham, south-east London, was walking round the square with a huge “Nigel for PM” sign.

Michael Wiltshire in Parliament Square (James Morris)

“It’s such a momentous day that we should come together and celebrate,” he said.

“And I want to see Nigel Farage. This is the day he’s been fighting for for decades.

“I didn’t even know if tonight was ever going to happen - it’s fantastic.”

Claire Fox, the former Brexit Party MEP, insisted the night wasn’t about Mr Farage.

She told Yahoo News UK: “The real heroes here today are the voters. Now they have been able to say ‘we can change things, history can be made’.”

The celebration had the feel of a (very patriotic) music festival, with hardcore supporters already camped out by the front of the stage at 8pm to get the best view of their favourite band. Or, in this case, Brexit Party chair Richard Tice, the first speaker of the night.

Thousands of Brexit supporters gathered in Parliament Square (Matt Crossick/Empics)

Before the speeches began, organisers whipped the crowd into a frenzy by showing a Leave-slanted history of EU membership on the big screen. There were massive cheers when Margaret Thatcher and Mr Farage appeared on the screen, with a huge chorus of pantomime boos for Europhiles John Major and Tony Blair.

Meanwhile, chants of “Rule Britannia”, “Brexit’s coming home” and “are you watching BBC?” filled the air.

Nigel Farage smiles after the UK's departure from the EU is confirmed (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

The “Brexit celebration” was organised by the Leave Means Leave campaign group. It is a cross-party platform, and featured speakers from the Tories, Labour and Brexit Party.

Yet there was only one person the thousands in attendance actually cared about. In between every speaker, there were chants of “Nigel! Nigel! Nigel! Nigel! Nigel!”

No wonder, by the time he entered the stage at about 10.50pm, Mr Farage looked so happy with himself.

A Channel 4 documentary on Mr Farage, “The Man Who Made Brexit”, which aired on Wednesday, showed the Brexit Party leader looking crestfallen at his lack of influence during the election campaign.

But Mr Farage, much like Jeremy Corbyn at Labour Party rallies, bullishly lapped up the devotion in Parliament Square.

“There are some that say we shouldn’t celebrate tonight,” he told the flag-waving crowd, “but we are going to celebrate tonight.

“There is one thing above all we must celebrate tonight and it is this: the reason we are here tonight is because Westminster became detached from the people in this country.

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