Your Farage questions answered – from running for PM in 2029 to why Reform leader gets ‘so much airtime’

Comments by Reform UK leader Nigel Farage are ‘worrying’ for Muslims, a community leader has said (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)
Comments by Reform UK leader Nigel Farage are ‘worrying’ for Muslims, a community leader has said (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)

As Nigel Farage launched his bold manifesto aimed at attracting unhappy Tory voters, I’ve been taking questions from Independent readers on the divisive Reform leader and his plans for Parliamentary domination.

On Monday, Mr Farage predicted he would become prime minister after the 2029 election as he unveiled Reform UK’s “contract with the people”.

While right-wing supporters cheered Reform UK’s pledges, economists and experts criticized the manifesto for its unrealistic economic plans and environmentally harmful anti-net zero policies.

Reform’s pledges came as Mr Farage was pegged to win in his constituency of Clacton in Essex by pollster Ipsos.

Amid the growing conversation around the former Ukip and Brexit Party leader, many have been left asking how Mr Farage – who has failed to secure a seat in Parliament seven times – gets “so much airtime” and if he could feasibly be prime minister in 2029.

Here are nine questions from Independent readers – and my answers from the “Ask Me Anything” event.

Q: Why does anybody imagine that Nigel Farage has anything interesting to offer?


A: Whether we like Farage’s views or not it is hard to ignore his influence on British politics. Brexit would not have happened without him and his two parties (Ukip and the Brexit Party). While for his critics he appears to be a clown and a caricature of a cartoon-like rightwinger, for others he is a hero.

He is willing to take on issues where normal politicians fear to tread. He is the one who put the small boats on the agenda and then took on the banks cancelling people’s bank accounts. The latter was arguably a public service which helped a wider community than the Brexiteer core he normally represents.

Another journalist from the BBC remarked to me a few months ago that they believed Farage to be the most influential UK politician of the 21st century. I would argue it was Blair but Farage is certainly a close second. He once told me when we met in Washington DC at the CPAC conference that he was “the father of populism”. I think that is true in that Trump, Melone and others followed Farage.

When Le Pen remodelled her father’s fascist party and tried to make it more acceptable she followed Farage’s playbook and based National Rally on Ukip. What we are seeing worryingly emerge in Europe with right-wing parties is linked to the Farage effect.

It is proof you do not necessarily need to be elected to parliament to be influential. While many will see him as an irrelevant extremist they ignore him or discount him at their peril.

Q: Why is he given so much airtime? There are other smaller parties with arguably more sensible policies to offer.


A: The broadcasters have a public service obligation to provide balance in their coverage and be impartial. Similar complaints have been made against the Greens in the past. The simple answer is that while a party he has led has only won one seat at a general election (Clacton in 2015) and two in by-elections, his parties have polled highly.

He also led Ukip to victory (biggest party) in a European election (2014) and repeated that with the Brexit Party (2019). There is an argument to be made that, whatever people think of his policies, he is the most influential British politician since Tony Blair.

Of course, his recent airtime was as an employee of GB News but in this election with Reform running third in the polls consistently and second to Labour in two polls, it is hard to exclude him from the airwaves. To do so would probably fuel his argument that there is an establishment conspiracy trying to silence the views of ordinary British people.

It is rather ironic given that he comes from the establishment himself but, as we are seeing on the European continent and in the US, this populist argument is gaining a lot of traction. To deliberately exclude people like Farage from the airwaves will only make his case appear stronger.

Q: Reform is a limited company and not a party. How could this could play a part in the election – what do voters need to know and what could that mean for the future of Reform?

Shila Ledbrook

A: This is a question which needs addressing after the election. Reform is certainly not democratic in the way it is run. We saw that when Nigel Farage decided to ditch one of its policies live on air without any consultation.

He and Richard Tice are the two major shareholders. There is a serious question over whether a political party can be run like this without any proper accountability to its members.

Certainly, if Farage wants to lead a new Conservative Party or party of the centre-right then he will have to get used to an organisation where he cannot be a mini dictator deciding policy on the hoof and have one where members can hold the leadership to account.

To a certain extent though this issue is as relevant to the Tories and Labour, especially in the way they imposed friends and allies of the leaderships on constituencies where the seat was winnable.

Q: Why isn’t the MSM not pointing out the numerous lies that came from Remain supporters?


A: I think the mainstream media is doing that. One of our front pages this week talked of the delusions of Farage, for example.

His predecessor Richard Tice was being pressed heavily even by GB News on the way the “contract with the people” did not add up.

The issue is that Farage in particular is a very skilled politician. There is not a question he has not heard before, he does not need an autocue and he loves the fact that he is counter-cultural and upsets people in polite society.

Like all the most effective populists - including Trump, Meloni, Le Pen, Orban and Wilders - he can reframe a question as being part of the establishment or mainstream conspiring against ordinary people.

It’s never about them until it comes to the glory, all attacks are attacks on hard-working people. The strategy is very effective and the best interrogators struggle to pin Farage down.

Q: What do people have to lose by voting for Reform? Why on earth would any sane person vote for Lib-Lab-Con, given the mess they’ve already made of everything?


A: This is Farage’s main offer. The others are mostly the same trying to occupy the same ground. It is why he is so effective and why so many Tory voters have appeared to have switched.

We will see though if they really do vote Reform on 4 July. After all there is only one poll that counts.

Q: In a mythical reform government, who would be chancellor? Home secretary? Foreign secretary? Would Farage fill all these positions?


A: Politics in five years could be very different. People none of us know about currently are likely to emerge.

Q: On Farage’s statement that he’ll run for PM in 2029: “Don’t you need a majority government before you can run for PM?”


A: If the centre-right forms the majority and he is leader then the King will have to ask him to form a government.

A lot of “ifs” there though.

Q: What’s the likelihood of Reform chipping away enough of the Tory vote for them to consider inviting him to join/lead their party?


A: If the Tories get less than 100 seats and someone on the right gets elected leader there is a good chance Farage would be invited to join.

What happens then? Farage does not like following others. So yes there is a path for this to happen even if other outcomes are more likely.

Q: After his current moment of fame in the UK, will Farage be off to the USA for another moment of fame in the autumn?


My answer:

A: I think the issue here is will Farage win his seat? If he does then he is in for a five-year haul of trying to build a coalition on the right with the Tories perhaps and a bid to become prime minister. Even if that does not work he will be stuck in parliament and using that as a platform.

If he fails in Clacton then it may be a race between him and Rishi Sunak as to who heads over the pond first. There is no doubt Farage is happy in the US where he is immensely popular but faces none of the physical danger he is exposed to here which is why he can go nowhere in the UK without security.

Trump would almost certainly give him a job, the two are great friends. Even if Trump does not win he could be part of the rebuild of the Republican populist right.

These questions and answers were part of an ‘Ask Me Anything’ hosted by David Maddox. Some of the questions and answers have been edited for this article. You can read the full discussion in the comments section of the original article.

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