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Voices: Australia has enforced its border laws with Djokovic – and Nigel Farage is angry about it. What’s going on?

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  • Nigel Farage
    Nigel Farage
    British politician and former commodity broker (born 1964)
  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player

Well, Nigel Farage will be pleased. Or so I thought when it was announced that Novak Djokovic’s visa had been revoked by Australia. He likes this sort of thing. Rules are good, especially rules about visas. And Australian rules are even better.

Farage loves the “Australian-style points system” for immigration. He told us so in 2014, 2015, 2016 – not sure about 2017 and 2018 – but definitely 2019 and 2020.

Fair to assume, then, that Australian prime minister Scott Morrison’s words this week would have delighted him. “On the issue of Mr Djokovic,” said Morrison, “rules are rules. I want to thank the Australian border force officers for doing their job – implementing the government’s policy.” And then it got even better for Farage. “It is for the traveller to be able to assert and back up their ability to come into the country, consistent with our laws.”

It must have been immensely reassuring for Farage to have his own views, so tenaciously fought for, echoed right back at him. “Britain needs to take back control of her borders, control of her immigration policy,” Farage said in 2015, “and let us turn what has become a negative in our society into a positive.” Yes, indeed. Now about that knighthood, chaps.

So imagine my surprise last night when I read a tweet, written by a certain, er, Nigel Farage. Pointing us in the direction of a story written by the BBC (“Defund the BBC” – Nigel Farage, June 2020), Farage asked: “Is Australia now a banana republic?” Consider me baffled.

These are the facts, as I understand them: a person, who also happens to be the men’s world number one tennis player, wants to enter a country; said country does not want that person to enter because he does not comply with their laws (Djokovic has been unclear about his vaccination status and has “failed to provide appropriate evidence” for entry); country therefore asks person to leave.

This, really, is all Farage has ever wanted and yet here he is suggesting that Australia (with whom we have just signed a post-Brexit trade deal, no less) is a “banana republic”.

The reason for this bizarre about-turn is, I suspect, to do with Farage’s opposition to mandatory vaccinations. In an article for The Telegraph in December, he wrote: “I am fundamentally opposed to any state dictating to its people what medical procedures they must have.” Which is fine, up to a point. But how does this square with Farage’s insistence that countries must take back control?

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The whole reason for Brexit was, Farage made clear in 2016, to ensure that “those we elect as MPs would be the ones who make and decide our laws”. Surely he’d want the same for Australia? Good ol’ Australia with their excellent beef?

He may not agree with Australia’s visa laws regarding vaccination but hey, they’re free to make their own laws, Nigel. Who are you to argue with that? You’d want the same for us.

It has an unfortunate whiff of “one rule for us, another rule for everyone else”. And we know Farage doesn’t like that. He was, after all, very angry when it was revealed that Downing Street staff had broken their own lockdown rules by having a series of parties during the pandemic.

Yet now he expects the UK to have the power to make their own laws, while also being furious that Australia has the power to make theirs. I think we need some answers, Nigel.

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