When I saw this breaking on Twitter earlier I sort of expected he meant a referendum on the type of final deal with the EU, or a deal vs. no deal referendum. But no – as you can see in the video in the clip – Farage is saying he could contemplate a fresh in-out referendum to cement the issue for a generation. He says he is confident Leave would win with a bigger majority.

But why is he saying this? And why now?

Farage went off to meet Michel Barnier on Monday this week (news report and short Farage video from Reuters here). It sounds like Barnier laid out to him the sort of Brussels standard about Brexit at the moment, namely no cherry picking, and the – as the UK wants out of the Single Market and the Customs Union – the UK is going to end up with something akin to Canada’s CETA deal.

But surely Barnier repeating what has been known for a while was not enough to sway Farage?

Some other things must have shifted his view.

Farage loves being contrarian and like to be in the limelight, and now no longer running UKIP and things looking rocky for his mates Bannon and Trump in the USA, it’s time to make a stir on Brexit again. This is Alexander Clarkson’s view. A radical Brexiteer calling for a second EU referedum is about as contrarian as it gets.

There’s also the suspicion – not unjustified – that as the complexities of Brexit really loom into view, the will of the government to pull through with the whole thing (and to timetable by March 2019) might be waning. Making this call now is perhaps a way to sharpen the government’s resolve.

A second referendum that went narrowly for Remain would actually suit Farage pretty well, although he would never admit it, as then he can carry on sniping from the sidelines and whingeing about elites not taking the people seriously, but actually not have to take any responsibility for the very complicated business of making Brexit happen.

Also as @odtorson says in this tweet it’s probably better to be done with such a vote as soon as possible, because to wait until the pain of Brexit is really felt will not help Farage cement the Leave result.

There’s also the issue of timing. One would presume that a snap referendum would suit no-one, as polls are so close so as to mean both sides would want time to campaign. But if the UK were focused on campaigning again then there’s even less focus on actually making a deal happen.

But anyway, whatever his reasons are, I welcome this intervention from Farage. If the UK is to stay in the EU there is no way in my view that it can be done without a second referendum at some stage (although I really doubt whether such a vote would be possible before March 2019 – not least due to the ongoing complexity of agreeing a transition deal). And – as James Chalmers points out – Remain has a pretty big advantage in a second vote:


  1. Farage may have very petty personal motifs: keep a seat in the EP, so that he is paid and can do what he wants. Wherelse would he get that? Where is his limelight once the issue is settled?

  2. Crikka

    There was nothing democratic about the Ref. 16 and 17 year olds denied the vote, the same for UK nationals living in the EU. The entire thing was a farce. ‘rascallion’ himself alludes to awn alleged ‘Project Fear’. Nothing was presented rationally or truthfully, from the UK’s future in the Single Market to really low and dirty outright lies knowingly written on the side of the bus to trick people.

    As for ‘Project Fear’ – we’re still in the EU. We haven’t got a single trade agreement lined up for when we leave. Not a single one. We’re spurning the biggest market in the world 20 miles away from us on the basis of statements like “easiest trade deal in history” and vague romanticised images of “sunlit uplands”. Reality is making a total mockery of people who were tricked into voting Leave – many of whom are decent people who are capable of being engaged with beyond hysterical tabloid shrieking. What about the converse “Project Fear”, that of an EU Army and Turkey joining the EU among many, many others? Not happening.

    To point the finger at Barnier et al for being “nasty” and “idiot[s]” really says a lot about the overall understanding of the situation some Leavers have. It’s remarkable how childlike these statements are – zero understanding of consequence and an inability to perceive the world beyond the confines of an ego. Were, for example, France to be the country leaving the EU with the UK retaining its position at the head of the table: how would we feel? It’s like agreeing to go on an expensive holiday with a group of friends, paying a deposit for the villa and flights only to get to the airport and back out, muttering about how unfair and nasty everyone is as you walk back alone along the M4 in the rain.

    I sincerely don’t think that many ardent Brexiters have felt what its like to be unemployed. I don’t believe them to be evil people, just perhaps sheltered from reality, wrapped in a cocoon of fanciful righteous indignation. Otherwise they wouldn’t be so blasé about a “short term economic hit”. It is crushing to be unemployed for a long time – to see your prospects vanish, feel your family worry and watch your life running through your fingers.

    The reality is that the EU has been used as a convenient scapegoat. Distrust and dissatisfaction with a corrupt neoliberal system has rightly come to a head. But, unfortunately, that understandable despair and anger has been capitalised by people just looking out for themselves and enjoying the ride. We never lost our Sovereignty. We were never properly educated about the benefits of being in the EU. The wealth it generated wasn’t distributed properly at a domestic level.

    Even now, over a year after the Referendum in June 2016, there are still no solid reasons, no tangible benefits, no actual positive things in the real world – the world that our children will go on to inherit – for leaving and every reason to Remain and fight for a reformed and fairer Europe, with Britain a potent and leading player.

  3. rapscallion

    This is far too easy Jon. The thing is that apart from the ardent Remainers, most of us accepted the result – because we were brought up to respect the democratic vote – even if we didn’t agree with it. So even those who voted Remain (by and large) can live with it. They have also seen how completely untrue Project Fear was, and for those who voted Remain based on Project Fear will now vote Leave. Thirdly, after having seen how utterly vindictive and nasty people like Barnier, Juncker and that utter idiot Verhofstadt have been about our voting to leave, they are left in no doubt that leaving is the best option. Lastly, it’s not all about the economy, and if it means short term economic loss to regain our freedom to rule ourselves and regain our sovereignty then that is a small price to pay. It’s all pointless anyway, because there won’t be a 3rd Referendum (The first being in 1974).

    • Ian Craig

      Hi Rapscallion – I would say leaving entails a raft of permanent damages, not short term. Not least the loss of many thousands of jobs and investment, a steady brain drain to Europe, the loss of the City as a world class financial hub, diplomatic power and influence draining away pretty fast – the list of negatives makes grim reading.
      To me it’s not about the personaliites running the EU – it’s that the benefits of being part of a large trading bloc will always trump going it alone – particularly with our very bizarre, lopsided economy (Thanks for that Maggie).

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