Monday

23rd Oct 2017

Column / Brexit Briefing

All hail the new establishment

For a self-styled anti-establishment politician, a glitzy party at the Ritz - one of London’s classiest hotels - is hardly sticking it to the man. But Nigel Farage doesn't care.

His victory ball on Wednesday night (23 November) was a celebration of one man’s wrecking ball against the EU and its supporters.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

2016 was “the year of the big political revolution,” Farage told his guests. After 25 years of campaigning, most of it spent on the fringes of UK politics leading an often derided party with only one MP, Farage’s wish to enjoy his day in the sun is understandable

Regardless of whether Farage gets a new hobby horse - his bromance with Donald Trump may have the president-elect lobbying for an ambassadorship in Washington DC, but a peerage in the House of Lords is by far the likelier outcome - the truth is that Farage and his fellow travellers in Ukip and the Conservative party are the new establishment.

The levers of political power are entirely in their hands.

"For those that are here that aren't particularly happy with what's happened in 2016, I've got some really bad news for you - it's going to get a bloody sight worse next year,” was the UKIP frontman's ominous warning to Britain’s silent liberals, left-wingers and pro-Europeans.

Perhaps Farage is right about that. Britain’s mourning Remainers will have breathed a collective sigh at the news on Sunday that Tony Blair is promising to return to British politics, to campaign against Brexit.

Blair doesn’t seem to realise that he is precisely the establishment career politician millions of voters wanted to give a kicking at the referendum on 23 June.

He does, at least, appear to have enough self-awareness to realise that seeking re-election is a non-starter.

“I can't come into frontline politics. There's just too much hostility,” he conceded.

Blair apparently met with former Liberal-Democratic leader Nick Clegg this week to discuss how a pro-European organisation could be formed to campaign against Brexit.

There are, surely, worse ideas out there.

Pro-Europeans don't deserve to be ignored

Even so, it’s hard to imagine a less likely insurgent movement than one fronted by a toxically unpopular former prime minister and David Cameron’s former deputy, who led his Liberal Democrat party to near extinction at the 2015 election.

It will be the ultimate coalition of establishment has-beens.

This is not to deny that the 48 percent of Remain voters need a political movement to rally around.

The acceptance of the referendum result by most pro-Europeans has been surprisingly meek.

Had the result been 52-48 percent in favour of Remain - as the pollsters had predicted - would Farage and co have respected the wishes of the majority? It is extremely doubtful.

While pro-Europeans may have lost the battle they don’t deserve to be ignored.

"The tyranny of the majority has never applied in a democracy and it should not apply in this particular democracy," said Sir John Major, the Conservative prime minister for most of the 1990s, and Blair’s predecessor, on Thursday

"We need to lift our eyes away from the philosophical dislike that some people feel for Europe and towards the practical implications of what our government must negotiate in the next few years."

In a political debate dominated by the loud mouths of Farage, Trump and foreign minister Boris Johnson, there is still a need for a voice of moderation and calm.

"In an age when the extremes of politics are rising, the solid centre of opinion should speak out for our values, for our future, and all that is good about our society,” added Major. “Now is not the time for silence... we should speak out."

For the moment, die-hard opponents of Brexit are in a tiny minority. Only a handful of the 650 MPs in the UK Parliament have stated that they will oppose the initiation of Article 50.

“If you think that trust has broken down in our politics imagine if this is not implemented,” Hilary Benn, the chairman of the House of Commons committee on Exiting the EU, and a staunch Remain supporter, told EUobserver.

“The idea that Parliament will turn say we know better is not going to happen,” he adds.

This is the political reality for the foreseeable future.

But debate doesn’t stop just because of an election or referendum. If it did, Nigel Farage would still be stuck in obscurity.

Benjamin Fox, a former reporter for EUobserver, is a consultant with Sovereign Strategy, a London-based PR firm, and a freelance writer

May warns parliament not to block Brexit

After the HIgh Court ruled that Parliament needs to agree to triggering the exit talks, the British PM vowed not to let Brexit to be "sabotaged".

Column / Brexit Briefing

Post-Brexit party games

The British party conference season has started, with Labour re-electing its leader but staying ambivalent on EU relations.

Ukraine language law does not harm minorities

Some European politicians keep spreading fictitious arguments on Ukraine's language law as being an impediment to minority rights, Ukraine's education minister says.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. Catalonia parliament weighs up independence declaration
  2. Russia used Interpol 'loophole' against EU activist
  3. Italian regions demand autonomy from Rome
  4. Populist victory puts Czech EU policy in doubt
  5. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  6. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  7. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  8. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  2. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  4. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  5. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  6. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  7. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  8. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  12. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement