Wednesday, 24 April 2019

New recruits may damage Brexit party's USP

Nigel Farage benefited in previous campaigns from being seen as an anti-Establishment figure, his promotion by BBC notwithstanding. His latest recruits, some listed by Guido here, joined today by former Conservative minister Ann Widdecombe, might be seen to be members of the Great And The Good. He is likely to be outflanked on the left by Gerald Batten leading his former party, UKIP, which has retained its aura of danger.

The only thing that binds all these people, apart from Brexit, is the chance of grabbing a share of European Parliament salaries and expenses. Low turnout has helped them in the past. When more ordinary voters get involved, as in a general election, their policy differences are exposed. It is significant that only one 'kipper has been elected to Westminster (and he was a former Conservative with a large personal vote).

I do not hold out much hope that debate (if there is any) during the EP campaign examines what candidates intend to do in their few months in Brussels. If it does, reporters may wish to question Farage's people on the subject of animal protection, something close to British hearts, and something which our lone Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has been fighting for in the EP. Miss Widdecombe has campaigned against animal cruelty in the past; one suspects that many of her new colleagues are all in favour of it.

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