He’s back, buzzy boisterous, still mildly bonkers: HENRY DEEDES sees the Nigel Farage roadshow roll into the ‘heart of England’
To a metal finishing warehouse on the outskirts of Coventry where young forklift operators in craggy overalls hover expectantly, slurping on steaming hot cuppas.
In front sits an audience of predominantly middle-aged men in three-piece tweeds, velvet-collared covert coats and sturdy brogues.
Further forward, the more elderly folk who’ve gathered on this sunny but brisk Friday morning sport handsome fob watches and Colonel Blimp moustaches.
Farage is back. Buzzy, boisterous, still mildly bonkers. But possibly less boozy
Meanwhile, outside, a usually dozy industrial estate is enlivened by angry protesters waving EU flags and chanting pro-migrant slogans.
It could only mean one thing. The Nigel Farage fanfare has rolled into town.
Farage is back. Buzzy, boisterous, still mildly bonkers. But possibly less boozy. Dressed smartly in an oil-blue suit and purple tie, he cut a more slimline figure than the Spitfire ale swigger of old.
He was launching his new political vehicle, the Brexit Party, here in ‘the heart of England’ as he put it, just in time for EU elections which will be held next month should the Prime Minister not have a deal in place by then.
Bouncing on stage, he received a hero’s welcome from the audience of 200. ‘Good on yer, Nigel!’ barked a man behind me.
‘Enough is enough!’ That was the buzz phrase of the day. I lost count of the amount of times Farage uttered this, his voice coarsened and gravelled by umpteen Rothmans.
Best of the bunch by far was Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of Jacob, a pleasant, elegant lady albeit with a touch of the Morticia Addams about her
His message: We have been let down by everyone in Westminster. Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn. Hammond, Osborne, ‘Chuka’s chums’ – a reference to Change UK, the breakaway independent party. Even his former outfit Ukip has gone rotten, he said, descending into a ‘loutish fringe’ obsessed with Islam. ‘Enough is enough!’
His new lot, though, were the real deal. Decent, salt-of-the earth types. He was so confident of their chances he had placed a £1,000 bet that morning that they would top the polls in EU elections. ‘I do like a bet,’ Nige winked. The man next door to me issued a throaty, sea dawg’s cackle.
In fact, he said, his party’s candidates might just be the finest to have stood before a British electorate. Just the sort of OTT claptrap we’re used to hearing from Farage’s old friend Donald J Trump.
We got to listen to a few of them. Personally I didn’t detect a great deal of razzle-dazzle. Best of the bunch by far was Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of Jacob, a pleasant, elegant lady albeit with a touch of the Morticia Addams about her.
Annunziata Rees-Mogg and her brother Jacob pictured together during the 2007 Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool
We also heard from the party’s chairman Richard Tice, a floppy-haired smoothie who informed us he was a successful businessman who’s built a gazillion homes, trebled his company’s share price and generally knew more about deal-making than the entire House of Commons combined and possibly the EU, US and UAE too.
A bit of an egotist, in other words. Careful, sunshine. Usually only room for one of those when Farage is involved.
Nige was asked what he thought about a second referendum. ‘We cannot have a second referendum until we’ve implemented the first!’ he bellowed. This provoked giddy whoops of delight among the crowd. ‘Enough is enough!’
Alex Thomson from Channel 4 News suggested Farage’s anger toward Parliament was misplaced and MPs were actually reflecting the will of the people. Uh-oh.
‘Roobish!’ yelled several gentlemen at the back. ‘Typical blooody Channel 4 roobish!’ Note to Thomson: Trust you got home safe, old boy.
A skinny hipster from a local rag, wearing skintight pantaloons, complained that businesses around the Midlands were suffering from lack of investment caused by Brexit uncertainty.
Farage said it wasn’t Brexit causing uncertainty. It was hopeless Mrs May’s inability to strike a deal. ‘Enough is enough!’ Further whoops. Pantaloons looked on despondently.
After just over an hour, Farage had to go. Time for his midday sharpener, perhaps. The audience dispersed, workers drained their mugs and hurried back to the factory floor.
And with that it was off to catch the lunchtime rattler back to London. Enough was enough.
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