Nigel Farage’s ‘secret girlfriend’ and the love triangle which resulted in a bitter public fallout

In 2017, it seemed that Farage had become romantically linked to Ferrari, 44, after she was seen at his £4m home in Chelsea
In 2017, it seemed that Farage had become romantically linked to Ferrari, 44, after she was seen at his £4m home in Chelsea - Twitter

She was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when Nigel Farage met her. That much is true.

But can the same be said of the rumours that his former political aide, Laure Ferrari, is the erstwhile Ukip leader’s “secret girlfriend”?

They have certainly been doing the rounds this week since the 59-year-old GB News presenter leapt back into the limelight with his debut on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! in Australia.

Britain has already seen the Leave campaigner wading waist-deep through brown “sticky gunk” in goggles and a stained pink shirt, resembling, as one reviewer put it, Michael Portillo on an interrail holiday.

He has been crystal clear about his reasons for doing the show: the enormous fee, reported to be £1.5 million, and the chance to soften the “hatred” that millions of Remainers continue to feel for him.

But one topic he has let it be known he does not intend to discuss around the campfire is his family and romantic life.

As a result, while sources have reportedly confirmed he does have a girlfriend and that she is Ferrari – who is his former parliamentary aide and 15 years his junior – they say she will not meet him when he leaves the jungle, as is tradition for family and loved ones, in order to “maintain a low profile”.

Farage is currently in the Australian jungle on  I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!
Farage is currently in the Australian jungle in I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! - ITV

Remaining below the radar when dating a man whose ex-campaign director Neil Hamilton described as a “sociopathic narcissist with a messiah complex”, may prove tricky. Yet it is understandable given the issues he has had when previous “low profile” relationships went public.

In February 2017, it emerged that the father-of-four and his German wife, Kirsten, had been “living separate lives” for years and Farage had moved out of their family home in Kent (although the pair are still married and are said to remain on very good terms).

That same year, his former political aide, Annabelle Fuller, revealed that she had been having an affair with her ex-boss for more than a decade, saying the subterfuge had driven her to despair. It should be noted that, in response, Farage declined to confirm or deny that he had had an affair with Fuller.

Again in 2017, it seemed that Farage had become romantically linked to Ferrari, 44, after she was seen at his £4m home in Chelsea, taking the bins out. At the time, Farage dismissed the idea of an affair as “crackers”.

“We all have our foibles and weaknesses. Mine is real ale, Nigel’s is women,” Farage’s friend and former Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom once said. Bloom, who shared a Brussels flat with Farage for several years, knows more than most about the chemistry between Ferrari and Farage as he was present when they first met, during a visit the two men made to Strasbourg for a monthly session of the European Parliament.

Kirsten Farage
Farage’s wife Kirsten – the couple have separated but are said to be on good terms - Gareth Fuller/PA Wir

In a 2014 TV interview, Ferrari clearly recalled that first encounter. “At the time, in 2007, I was working in a [restaurant-bar] in Strasbourg. I met these two MEPs and we started talking about politics,” she said. “The two Brits have no hierarchy and neither of them comes from a political background.”

Before 2005, she added “I hadn’t a clue about politics. For me, it was carried out by old men who sat around talking.” Apparently, Farage didn’t fall into that category.

Within months, the waitress had been elevated to Farage’s inner circle as head of PR for the British delegation to the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, led by Ukip.

Born in 1979 and raised in Epinal in north-east France, Ferrari moved 90 miles to study English at the University of Strasbourg and then spent two more years there doing a master’s in communications.

After her studies, she took out a bank loan and opened a clothes shop in Strasbourg called Urban Flavor, as “I couldn’t see myself working for someone else”.

But the business failed to flourish and financial difficulties led her to work as a waitress in the evenings.

According to a close friend, Ferrari and Farage became almost inseparable and regularly attended political events and parties together in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Early clues to her affection on social media included a 2013 tweeted link to a newspaper article headlined: “Why do more women want to bed Nigel Farage over David Cameron?”

Farage’s former political aide, Annabelle Fuller, claimed to have had an affair with him, something he has neither confirmed nor denied
Farage’s former political aide, Annabelle Fuller, claimed to have had an affair with him, something he has neither confirmed nor denied - Antonio Olmos

She went on to run for European Parliament for a little-known Eurosceptic party called Arise the Republic, run by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, one of 10 nationalist parties that made up the Alliance for Direct Democracy Europe (ADDE), a coalition set up in 2014 by Ukip.

When Marine Le Pen, then leader of the hard-Right Front National, was asked why Farage had thrown in his lot with a minor French Eurosceptic party and not hers, she offered an innuendo-laden answer: “Are perhaps our assistants less pretty than those of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan? This could be a reason.”

In March 2015, Ferrari was appointed executive director of the think tank the Institute for Direct Democracy Europe (IDDE), setting up an office in Westminster and moving to Britain.

In 2016, IDDE was accused of illegally diverting £400,000 of public money to Ukip – before the UK general election and Brexit referendum.

Subsequent investigations proved contrary: the Electoral Commission concluded that Ukip did not take donations from  impermissible sources. The European Parliament Bureau said rules were broken. Ultimately, the ECJ found in favour of the IDDE on this issue.

Ferrari dancing at the Leave EU Brexit anniversary party in Bristol in 2017
Ferrari dancing at the Leave EU Brexit anniversary party in Bristol in 2017 - Steve Finn

And at the height of the scandal, the pair were seen at a London pub together, locked in conversation, before both discreetly exiting a chauffeur-driven Range Rover.

“Farage’s attention was only on one woman all night”, said one person present. But the Ukip leader denied any romance.

“She is someone I have worked with and known for a long time, who wanted somewhere to stay for a week that wouldn’t cost her any money,” he said, when quizzed.

“It’s a working relationship. You can inflate it however you want to.”

But Fuller suggested there was more to it than that, and that it had started far earlier.

During an election stunt in 2010, just three years after he hired Ferrari, Farage was famously involved in a near-fatal crash when the two-seat plane he was in, towing a ‘Vote Ukip’ banner, flipped and nose-dived into a field.

Farage was taken to hospital after his plane crashed in Northamptonshire in 2010
Farage was taken to hospital after his plane crashed in Northamptonshire in 2010 - Neil Hall

Injured, Farage was miraculously seen walking out of the aircraft covered in blood and was rushed to Horton Hospital in Oxford.

When Fuller tried to visit him, she said she was barred entry.

“I was shaking with worry by the time I got there. I didn’t even make it inside before a woman who said she was his local aide barred my way,” she recalled.

The woman, Fuller claimed, was Ferrari.

“I’m told that Ukip members were trying to calm her down and move her out of the way before Kirsten got there.”

With the rivalry between the two ‘mistresses’ said to be bitter, an email purportedly from Ferrari circulated in the press, in which she ranted against a certain type of British woman “with a very short dress, tart-looking, drinking massively who vomits in the street and then leaves with the first man to pick them up”.

French women, on the other hand, “can be very discreet and respectful, hiding a sincere love affair for three years and six months... not looking for any kind of publicity at all.”

That partial assessment was not shared by all of Farage’s entourage, with one person who knew the pair in Brussels saying Ferrari would often use her “female attributes” to push her own political ambitions.

“I didn’t like the way she was using [Farage] to feather her own nest,” they told the Telegraph. “I thought it was abusive.”

Whatever the reality of his complex living arrangements, Farage has previously confessed to being a challenging partner. “Being married to me is very difficult,” he once said. “Even before I entered politics, it was tough and complicated. While I can handle the negative attention, it has affected those around me, and there is an unpleasant side to it,” he said.

“To be honest, my complete devotion to Ukip... I place it above everything else. It may sound terrible, but that was my priority.”

Fuller also said their relationship played second fiddle to his political ambitions.

“Nigel and I both knew we had to keep quiet to save Brexit. We are both liars and hypocrites but the reason I had to lie throughout the years was that I didn’t want Ukip or the cause we were fighting for to be damaged.

“He said, ‘They will use anything they can to stop this; they will use anything they can to stop me. We are going up against the Establishment here. They will come after you’.”

“I said to him, ‘Do you have any idea how painful it is for me?’, and he would say ‘Yes’.”

Farage may have ditched Ukip but some see I’m a Celebrity as his way back into mainstream British politics just as the Tories are in organisational disarray and polling hell.

“I wouldn’t rule out a return to front-line politics in the future,” a friend of Farage told the Telegraph this month.

“He definitely sees his appearance [on I’m a Celebrity] as an opportunity to appeal to a new, younger audience – one that was too young to vote in the Brexit referendum. And that won’t hurt, whatever he decides to do next.”

That apparently means keeping his tumultuous private life, including his “secret girlfriend”, out of the jungle.

But, as he prepares for his next I’m a Celeb bushtucker ordeal, that might prove one of the toughest challenges of all.

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