There’s only one way to explain Nigel Farage’s behaviour. He’s becoming a Remainer

Michael Deacon
Nigel Farage seemed strangely put out by Jean-Claude-Juncker’s refusal to delay Brexit - AFP

Would someone mind checking on Nigel Farage? I’m worried about him. I hope he’s all right. It’s just that he’s been behaving a little bit oddly.

After Boris Johnson announced his Brexit deal on Thursday, an appalled Mr Farage said he’d rather have an extension of Article 50 – in other words, a delay to Brexit. Then, when Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU would reject an extension, Mr Farage was furious.

But hang on a minute. If MPs vote down the deal, and the EU rejects an extension, we’ll be leaving on October 31 with a no-deal Brexit.

Which I thought was what Mr Farage wanted.

Things then grew stranger still, as the Brexit Party leader warned listeners of his LBC radio show that Brexit was only going to get more and more difficult. “Anybody that thinks we’re nearing the final phase of this hasn’t got a clue,” he scowled. “The Withdrawal Agreement will prove to have been the easy bit.” Which, funnily enough, is exactly what Remainers have been saying.

And then it hit me. If Mr Farage doesn’t want to leave with a deal, and doesn’t want the EU to reject an extension, I can see only one explanation.

Nigel Farage is becoming a Remainer.

No, I know it sounds unlikely, but it’s not impossible. Mr Farage may simply be “going on a journey”. After all, lots of people in politics “go on a journey”. For example, John Bercow, with his journey from right-wing Tory to right-on liberal. And Labour, with their journey from political party to hate group.

Personally I think it sounds great. I can picture it already. Six months from now, Nigel Farage, endlessly posing for photos in Crouch End coffee shops clutching a cup of organic soy latte, while railing against the out-of-touch Brexit elite for ignoring the legitimate concerns of decent, ordinary Eurofederalists. “Do you know, I was on a train the other day – and all I could hear was people speaking English. I’m sorry, but I just don’t recognise this country any more.”

Admittedly the public might find such a transformation somewhat hard to swallow. It’ll basically be like the big twist in the final season of Game of Thrones. Lots of disappointed fans complaining that the abrupt change in the main character’s personality isn’t remotely credible – but wise critics pointing back to subtle moments of foreshadowing from earlier seasons. (Remember last summer, when Mr Farage claimed, “I never said it would be a beneficial thing to leave and everyone would be better off”?)

A strange old turn of events. Still, at least it clears up one mystery. Hardcore Remainers on Twitter always campaign with the peculiar hashtag #FBPE. At last I’ve worked out what those letters stand for.

“Farage is Back – Pro-Europe!”

No news is good news

Given that I work for a newspaper, this might sound a bit weird. But all the same, I’ve got to say it. The problem with this country nowadays is… there’s far too much news.

There didn’t used to be. Until about five years ago, it was fine. The news level was manageable. But these days we’re constantly being knocked off our feet by an unstoppable onrushing avalanche of events. And it’s become impossible to cope. 

Not only that, it’s playing havoc with our perception of time. Because each day is stuffed with so many twists and shocks and crises, things that happened only the day before are instantly forgotten, and events from the previous week feel like they took place in another age. According to Wikipedia, the Queen’s Speech happened on Monday, but already it feels like six months ago. “Wagatha Christie”? That happened in, what, 1982? And Extinction Rebellion – remember them? You know: those environmental protesters who tried to deter people from driving cars by making it impossible to get anywhere by public transport. Ancient history now, of course. It happened as long ago as Thursday morning.

Thursday morning! Ah, that takes me back. Feeling quite nostalgic now. Just thinking about the clothes we used to wear, the hairdos we used to have, the music we used to listen to, all those hours ago. Happier times. Young folk will roll their eyes, of course, but personally, I think we were better off, on Thursday morning. Life was simpler, back then.

Still, as the saying goes: if you can remember Thursday morning, you weren’t really there.

Class anxieties

I wonder whether other parents know this feeling. Last week it was parents’ evening at my son’s school. And on my way there, I realised that I was nervous. Because deep down, I feared that it wasn’t simply my son who was going to be judged. It was me.

Me, and my parenting skills. After all, if it turned out that my son wasn’t doing well at school, maybe it was my fault. Maybe it meant I was a bad parent. Maybe I was letting my son down.

As I anxiously approached the classroom, I was already imagining what the teacher would say.

“Deacon! What time do you call this? Your slot started two minutes ago. Now sit down before you earn yourself a detention. Come on, Deacon! Sit up straight! Don’t slouch! And you’d better be paying attention, because I’ll be asking questions later. 

“Well, Deacon, it gives me no pleasure to report that your parenting this term has been extremely disappointing. You clearly haven’t been putting the work in. Must try harder. What’s that? Speak up, Deacon! Deacon, are you chewing in my classroom?

“Right, Deacon, that’s it. Stay behind afterwards and write out 100 times: ‘I will help my son with his spelling homework every night until Christmas.’”

Luckily, though, it was all right. The teacher said my son was doing fine. 

What a relief. I was terrified she was going to send me to the headmistress.