19th Mar 2018

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.

Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea

Together with many other partners, including the United States, Canada and Norway, the European Union has implemented a policy of non-recognition and sanctions regimes, targeting people and entities that have promoted Russia's illegal annexation.

Column / Brussels Bytes

EU e-privacy proposal risks breaking 'Internet of Things'

EU policymakers need to clarify that the e-privacy should not apply to most Internet of Things devices. The current proposal require explicit user consent in all cases - which is not practical.

News in Brief

  1. Car industry 'increasingly nervous' about Brexit
  2. EU countries 'unqualified solidarity' with UK over attack
  3. Seehofer: EU 'patronising' eastern states on migration
  4. How Facebook data helped Trump and Brexit campaigns
  5. Macron, Merkel pledge eurozone reform plan by June
  6. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  7. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  8. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Russia poisoning is not EU concern, Germany says
  2. Kiev wants EU sanctions on former German chancellor
  3. North Korea: time to put the 'E' in engagement
  4. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  5. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  6. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  7. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  8. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  2. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  4. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  5. EUobserverNow Hiring! Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience
  6. EUobserverNow Hiring! Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience
  7. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  10. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections
  12. CECEIndustry Stakeholders Are Ready to Take the Lead in Digital Construction