Nigel Farage

"Farage" redirects here. For the name, see Farage (name).

Nigel Farage
Leader of the UK Independence Party
In office
5 October 2016  28 November 2016
Preceded by Diane James
Succeeded by Paul Nuttall
In office
5 November 2010  16 September 2016
Deputy Paul Nuttall
Preceded by Jeffrey Titford (Acting)
Succeeded by Diane James
In office
12 September 2006  27 November 2009
Deputy David Campbell Bannerman
Preceded by Roger Knapman
Succeeded by The Lord Pearson of Rannoch
Chair of Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy
Assumed office
24 June 2014
Serving with David Borrelli
Preceded by Position established
Chair of Europe of Freedom and Democracy
In office
1 July 2009  24 June 2014
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Chair of the UK Independence Party
In office
1998  22 January 2000
Leader Michael Holmes
Preceded by Alan Sked
Succeeded by Mike Nattrass
Member of the European Parliament
for South East England
Assumed office
10 June 1999
Preceded by Constituency established
Personal details
Born Nigel Paul Farage
(1964-04-03) 3 April 1964
Downe, England, UK
Political party Conservative (Before 1993)[1]
UK Independence (1993–present)
Spouse(s) Gráinne Hayes (1988–1997)
Kirsten Mehr (1999–present)
Children 4
Website Official website
Parliament website

Nigel Paul Farage (/ˈfærɑːʒ/;[2] born 3 April 1964) is a British politician who was the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) from 2006 to 2009 and again from 2010 to 2016.[3] Since 1999 he has been a Member of the European Parliament for South East England. He co-chairs the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (formerly "Europe of Freedom and Democracy") group.[4] He has been noted for his sometimes controversial speeches in the European Parliament[5][6] and has strongly criticised the euro currency.

Farage was a founding member of UKIP, having left the Conservative Party in 1992 after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty.[7] After unsuccessfully campaigning in European and Westminster parliamentary elections for UKIP since 1994, he was elected MEP for South East England in the 1999 European Parliament election. He was subsequently re-elected in 2004, 2009 and, most recently, at the 2014 European parliament election.

In September 2006, Farage became the UKIP Leader and led the party through the 2009 European Parliament Election, when it won the second highest share of the popular vote, defeating Labour and the Liberal Democrats with over two million votes. He stepped down in November 2009 to concentrate on contesting Buckingham, the constituency of the Speaker, John Bercow, at the 2010 general election, coming third. In November 2010, Farage successfully stood in the 2010 UKIP leadership contest,[8] following the resignation of Lord Pearson of Rannoch.

Farage announced his resignation as leader when he did not win the South Thanet seat in Kent at the 2015 general election, but his resignation was rejected and he remained in his post. In June 2016, Farage was a prominent supporter of the successful campaign for a vote in favour of leaving the EU in the UK EU membership referendum.[9] On 4 July 2016, Farage again announced his resignation as leader of UKIP, triggering a leadership election.[10] Diane James was elected to succeed him, but she resigned as leader after just 18 days and Farage became interim leader on 5 October 2016.[11] A second leadership election was held in November, which was won by Paul Nuttall, who thus succeeded Farage.

Farage was ranked second in The Daily Telegraph's Top 100 most influential right-wingers poll in October 2013, behind Prime Minister David Cameron.[12] He was also named "Briton of the Year" by The Times in 2014.[13]

Early life, education and early career

Farage was born in Downe in Kent, England, as the son of Barbara (née Stevens) and Guy Justus Oscar Farage.[14][15][16] The Farage name comes from a distant Huguenot ancestor.[17] One of his great-grandfathers was born to German parents who migrated to London in the 19th century.[18] His grandfather, Private Harry Farage, fought in World War I and was wounded near Vimy Ridge at Arras.[19] His father was a stockbroker who worked in the City of London. A 2012 BBC Radio 4 profile described Guy Farage as an alcoholic[14] who left the family home when Nigel was five years old.[6]

From 1975 to 1982, Farage was educated at Dulwich College, an independent school with a wide social mix in south London.[20] In his autobiography he pays tribute to the careers advice he received there from England Test cricketer John Dewes, "who must have spotted that I was quite ballsy, probably good on a platform, unafraid of the limelight, a bit noisy and good at selling things".[21] According to a letter written in 1981 by a teacher at the school, plans to make Farage a prefect were opposed by some staff because of his allegedly racist and fascist leanings. The man who appointed Farage a prefect, David Emms, former master of Dulwich College, stated in 2013 he has no memory of the letter and he disagrees that Farage was guilty of racism. Farage denies he ever had far-right sympathy. In his autobiography, he claims that teachers opposed this appointment because of his admiration for the controversial Conservative Enoch Powell.[22] On leaving school in 1982, he decided not to go to university, but to work in the City, trading commodities at the London Metal Exchange.[14] Initially, he joined the American commodity operation of brokerage firm Drexel Burnham Lambert,[16] transferring to Crédit Lyonnais Rouse in 1986.[16] He joined Refco in 1994, and Natexis Metals in 2003.[16]

Political career

Early years

Farage was active in the Conservative Party from his school days, having seen a visit to his school by Enoch Powell and Keith Joseph.[23] However, he voted for the Green Party in 1989 because of what he saw as their then "sensible" and Eurosceptic policies.[23] He left the Conservatives in 1992 in protest at Prime Minister John Major government's signing of the Treaty on European Union at Maastricht.[24][25] He was a founding member of UKIP in 1993.

European Parliament

Farage was elected to the European Parliament in 1999 and re-elected in 2004, 2009 and 2014. In 1999 the BBC spent four months filming a documentary about his European election campaign but did not air it. Farage, then head of the UKIP's South East office, asked for a video and had friends make copies which were sold for £5 through the UKIP's magazine. Surrey Trading Standards investigated and Farage admitted the offence.[26] Farage is presently the leader of the 24-member UKIP contingent in the European Parliament, and co-leader of the multinational Eurosceptic group, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy. Farage was ranked the fifth most influential MEP by Politico in 2016, who described him as "one of the two most effective speakers in the chamber".[27]

Jacques Barrot

On 18 November 2004, Farage announced in the European Parliament that Jacques Barrot, then French Commissioner-designate, had been barred from elected office in France for two years, after being convicted in 2000 of embezzling £2 million from government funds and diverting it into the coffers of his party. He said that French President Jacques Chirac had granted Barrot amnesty and initial BBC reports said that, under French Law, it was perhaps illegal to mention that conviction.[28] The prohibition in question applies only to French officials in the course of their duties.[29] The President of the Parliament, Josep Borrell, enjoined him to retract his comments under threat of "legal consequences".[30] The following day it was confirmed that Barrot had received an 8-month suspended jail sentence in the case, and that this had been quickly expunged by the amnesty decided by Chirac and his parliamentary majority. The Socialist and Liberal groups in the European Parliament then joined forces with UKIP in demanding the resignation of Barrot for failing to disclose the conviction during his confirmation hearings.

José Manuel Barroso

In early 2005, Farage requested that the European Commission disclose where the individual Commissioners had spent their holidays. The Commission did not provide the information requested, on the basis that the Commissioners had a right of privacy. The German newspaper Die Welt reported that the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, had spent a week on the yacht of the Greek shipping billionaire Spiros Latsis. It emerged soon afterwards that this had occurred a month before the Commission under Barroso's predecessor Romano Prodi approved 10.3 million euros of Greek state aid for Latsis's shipping company.[31] It also became known that Peter Mandelson, then the British EU Commissioner, had accepted a trip to Jamaica from an unrevealed source.

Farage persuaded around 75 MEPs from across the political divide to back a motion of no confidence in Barroso, which would be sufficient to compel Barroso to appear before the European Parliament to be questioned on the issue.[32] The motion was successfully tabled on 12 May 2005, and Barroso appeared before Parliament[33] at a debate on 26 May 2005. The motion was heavily defeated. A Conservative MEP, Roger Helmer, was expelled from his group, the European People's Party – European Democrats (EPP-ED), in the middle of the debate by that group's leader Hans-Gert Poettering as a result of his support for Farage's motion.

UKIP leadership and resignations

Farage at the UKIP Conference in 2009

On 12 September 2006, Farage was elected leader of UKIP with 45 per cent of the vote, 20 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival.[34] He pledged to bring discipline to the party and to maximise UKIP's representation in local, parliamentary and other elections. In a PM programme interview on BBC Radio 4 that day he pledged to end the public perception of UKIP as a single-issue party and to work with allied politicians in the Better Off Out campaign, committing himself not to stand against the MPs who have signed up to that campaign.[35]

In his maiden speech to the UKIP conference, on 8 October 2006, Farage told delegates that the party was "at the centre-ground of British public opinion" and the "real voice of opposition". He said: "We've got three social democratic parties in Britain – Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative are virtually indistinguishable from each other on nearly all the main issues" and "you can't put a cigarette paper between them and that is why there are nine million people who don't vote now in general elections that did back in 1992."[36]

At 10pm on 19 October 2006, Farage took part in a three-hour live interview and phone-in with James Whale on the national radio station talkSPORT. Four days later, Whale announced on his show his intention to stand as UKIP's candidate in the 2008 London Mayoral Election. Farage said that Whale "not only has guts, but an understanding of what real people think". Whale later decided not to stand and UKIP was represented by Gerard Batten.[37]

Farage stood again for the UKIP leadership in 2010 (having stood down the year before, to focus on his unsuccessful campaign in the Buckingham election) after his successor Lord Pearson had stood down,[8] and on 5 November 2010 it was announced he had won the leadership contest.[38]

In May 2014 Farage led the UKIP to win the EU Election with 4,376,635 votes,[39] the first time a UK political party other than Labour or Conservatives had won a national election in over 100 years. Farage was returned as MEP for the South East region, a seat he has represented since 1999.

As an MEP Farage leads the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy grouping in the European Parliament.[40]

On 8 May 2015, Farage resigned as leader of UKIP after he failed to win the seat of Thanet South in the general election held the previous day, although he kept open the possibility of re-entering the ensuing leadership contest.[41] In his autobiography, The Purple Revolution, he had written:

It is frankly just not credible for me to continue to lead the party without a Westminster seat. […] Was I supposed to brief Ukip policy from the Westminster Arms? No – if I fail to win South Thanet, it is curtains for me. I will have to step down.[42]

On 11 May it was announced that Farage would continue to serve as the party’s leader, with the BBC reporting: "Party chairman Steve Crowther said the national executive committee believed the election campaign had been a ‘great success’ and members had ‘unanimously’ rejected Mr Farage's letter of resignation".[42] Interviewed about his continued leadership by the BBC the following day, Farage said: "I resigned. I said I'd resign. I turned up to the NEC meeting with letter in hand fully intending to carry that through. They unanimously said they didn't want me to do that, they presented me with petitions, signatures, statements from candidates saying it would be a bad thing for UKIP. So I left the meeting, went and sat in darkened room to think about what to do, and decided for the interest of the party I would accept their kind offer for me to stay and tear up the letter." He added that he would consider standing for parliament again should a by-election be called in a Labour-held seat.[43]

Farage resigned as UKIP leader on 4 July 2016 with the following comment, "During the [Brexit] referendum I said I wanted my country back … now I want my life back"[44] and added that this resignation was final: "I won’t be changing my mind again, I can promise you",[45] apparently referring to his two previous resignations (in 2009 and 2015).[46]

Westminster elections

Farage had unsuccessfully contested British parliamentary elections for UKIP five times, both before and after his election as an MEP in 1999. Under the 2002 European Union decision to forbid MEPs from holding a dual mandate, if he were to be elected to the House of Commons, he would have to resign his seat as MEP.

When he contested the Bromley & Chislehurst constituency in a May 2006 by-election, following the death of Eurosceptic Conservative MP Eric Forth, Farage came third, winning 8 per cent of the vote, beating the Labour Party candidate. This was the second-best by-election result recorded by UKIP out of 25 results, and the first time since the Liverpool Walton by-election in 1991 that a party in government had been pushed into fourth place in a parliamentary by-election on mainland Britain.

Joseph Daul

In January 2007, the French farmers' leader Joseph Daul was elected to lead the European People's Party–European Democrats (EPP-ED), the European Parliamentary grouping which then included the British Conservatives. UKIP almost immediately revealed that Daul had been under judicial investigation in France since 2004 as part of an inquiry into the alleged misuse of public funds worth €16 million (£10.6 million) by French farming unions."[47] It was not suggested that Daul had personally benefited, but was accused of "complicity and concealment of the abuse of public funds." Daul accused Farage of publicising the investigation for political reasons and threatened to sue Farage, but did not do so though the court dropped all charges against him.

Prince Charles

Charles, Prince of Wales was invited to speak to the European Parliament on 14 February 2008; in his speech he called for EU leadership in the battle against climate change. During the standing ovation that followed, Farage was the only MEP to remain seated, and he went on to describe the Prince's advisers as "naïve and foolish at best."[48] Farage continued: "How can somebody like Prince Charles be allowed to come to the European Parliament at this time to announce he thinks it should have more powers? It would have been better for the country he wants to rule one day if he had stayed home and tried to persuade Gordon Brown to give the people the promised referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon." The leader of the UK Labour Party's MEPs, Gary Titley, accused Farage of anti-Royalism. Titley said: "I was embarrassed and disgusted when the Leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, remained firmly seated during the lengthy standing ovation Prince Charles received. I had not realised Mr Farage's blind adherence to right-wing politics involved disloyalty and discourtesy to the Royal Family. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself and should apologise to the British people he represents."[48]

Expenses disclosure

In May 2009, The Observer reported a Foreign Press Association speech given by Farage in which he had said that over his period as a Member of the European Parliament he had received a total of £2 million of taxpayers' money in staff, travel, and other expenses.[49] In response, Farage said that in future all UKIP MEPs would provide monthly expense details.[49]

Herman Van Rompuy

After the speech of Herman Van Rompuy on 24 February 2010 to the European Parliament, Farage – to protests from other MEPs – addressed the former Belgian Prime Minister and first long-term President of the European Council saying that he had the "charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of low grade bank clerk".[50] Farage questioned the legitimacy of Van Rompuy's appointment, asking, "Who are you? I'd never heard of you, nobody in Europe had ever heard of you." He also asserted that Van Rompuy's "intention [is] to be the quiet assassin of European democracy and of the European nation states".[50][51] Van Rompuy commented afterwards, "There was one contribution that I can only hold in contempt, but I'm not going to comment further."[50] After refusing to apologise for behaviour that was, in the words of the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, "inappropriate, unparliamentary and insulting to the dignity of the House", Farage was reprimanded and had his right to ten days' allowance (expenses) "docked".[52][53]

Buzek said after his meeting with Farage:

I defend absolutely Mr Farage's right to disagree about the policy or institutions of the Union, but not to personally insult our guests in the European Parliament or the country from which they may come... I myself fought for free speech as the absolute cornerstone of a democratic society. But with freedom comes responsibility – in this case, to respect the dignity of others and of our institutions. I am disappointed by Mr Farage's behaviour, which sits ill with the great parliamentary tradition of his own country. I cannot accept this sort of behaviour in the European Parliament. I invited him to apologise, but he declined to do so. I have therefore – as an expression of the seriousness of the matter – rescinded his right to ten days' daily allowance as a Member.[53]

Questioned by Camilla Long of The Times, Farage described his speech: "it wasn't abusive, it was right."[54]

2010 UK General Election

On 4 September 2009, Farage resigned as the UKIP's leader to focus on his campaign to become Member of Parliament for Buckingham at Westminster in the 2010 general election.[55] He later told The Times journalist Camilla Long that UKIP internal fights took up far too much time.[54]

Farage stood against sitting Buckingham MP, John Bercow, the newly elected Speaker of the House of Commons, despite the convention that the Speaker, as a political neutral, is not normally challenged in his or her bid for re-election by any of the major parties.[56]

Farage came third with 8,401 votes. Bercow was re-elected and in second place with 10,331 votes was John Stevens, a former Conservative MEP who campaigned as an independent accompanied by "Flipper the Dolphin" (a reference to MPs flipping second homes).[57]

Injury in air crash

On 6 May 2010, the morning of the election, Farage was travelling in a two-seater PZL-104 Wilga aircraft with a pro-UKIP banner attached, when the plane crashed.[58] Farage suffered injuries that were described as non-life-threatening.[59] Although his injuries were originally described as minor,[58] his sternum and ribs were broken and his lung punctured.[60] The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said that the aeroplane was towing a banner, which caught in the tailplane, forcing the nose down.[61]

On 1 December 2010, Justin Adams, the pilot of the aircraft involved in the accident, was charged with threatening to kill Farage in a separate incident. He was also charged with threatening to kill an AAIB official involved in the investigation into the accident.[62] In April 2011, the pilot was found guilty of making death threats. The judge said that the defendant was "clearly extremely disturbed" at the time the offences happened, adding "He is a man who does need help. If I can find a way of giving him help I will."[63]

May 2012 London mayoral and local elections

UKIP forgot to put their party name on their candidate's ballot paper for the London mayoral election, 2012,[64] Laurence Webb appearing as "a fresh choice for London". Farage described the mistake as an internal error.[64] Interviewed the following Sunday by Andrew Neil and asked about "the game plan", Farage welcomed the "average 13% vote" across the country, and stated that the party was preparing for county council elections in 2013, European elections in 2014 and a general election in 2015.[65]

Farage at the opening of the UKIP office in Basingstoke, in 2012

Asked what would happen to UKIP if the Conservatives made a manifesto commitment to a European Referendum, Farage said they had already failed to honour a "cast iron" commitment for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.[65] Challenging Farage's viewpoint, Neil said that UKIP aspired to come top of the European elections, but while UKIP wanted to join the big time they were still seen as "unprofessional, amateur and even unacceptable."[65] In an interview, Farage described Baroness Warsi as "the lowest grade Chairman the Tory Party has ever had."[65] He was voted politician of the year by the online service MSN.[66]

Campaign against Irish fiscal treaty

In May 2012 Farage was interviewed by Karen Coleman of the Irish Independent about the campaign in Ireland against the Irish fiscal treaty. Ireland had no anti-EU MEPs and according to Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP, UKIP's involvement was counterproductive as "Irish voters strongly dislike foreigners like Mr Farage telling them how to vote". Coleman who believed the campaign had "little to do with what's best for Ireland" described the campaign as "particularly egregious" and said the interview became 'nasty' when she asked Farage about the campaign funding.[67]

May 2013 local elections

In May 2013 Farage led UKIP to its best-ever performance in a UK election. The party received 23 per cent of the vote in the local elections, winning 147 council seats, and placing it only 2 points behind the governing Conservative party and 9 points ahead of the Liberal Democrats. Farage was mobbed by well-wishers as he made his way to his favourite pub, the Marquis of Granby, for a celebratory drink.[68] He called the victory "a real sea change in British politics".[68] Subsequently, polling agency Survation found that 22 per cent of voters intended to support UKIP in the 2015 General Election.[69]

Visit to Scotland

In May 2013, Farage was interrupted by protesters during a press conference in the Canon's Gait pub on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. The demonstration was organised by groups including the Radical Independence Campaign and saw protesters vocally accuse Farage of being "racist", "fascist", and a "homophobe", and tell him to "go back to London". Farage made attempts to leave by taxi but was prevented from doing so, and was eventually taken away in an armoured police van while protesters continued to shout.[70][71][72] He was trying to raise the profile of UKIP in Scotland ahead of the Aberdeen Donside by-election; the party at that point had no representation in the country, and took 0.91 per cent of the vote in the previous election[73] though it won its first Scottish MEP the following year. During an interview with BBC's Good Morning Scotland radio show, Farage labelled the protesters "yobbo fascist scum" before hanging up, stating that the questions regarding the incident in Edinburgh were insulting and unpleasant.[74]

2014 European election

In a second visit to Edinburgh in May 2014 Farage correctly predicted that UKIP would win a Scottish seat in the European Parliament elections. Two hundred protesters heckled and booed him.[75] Thirty police in two vans were needed to preserve order.[76]

In the European Parliament elections in 2014, Farage led UKIP to win the highest share of the vote. It was the first time a political party other than the Labour Party and Conservative Party has won the popular vote in a national election since the 1906 general election.[77][78] It is also the first time a party other than the Labour and Conservatives won the largest number of seats in a national election since the December 1910 general election.[79][80][81]

Undeclared gifts

In June 2014, Farage declared £205,603 for free use of a barn for his constituency office, which had been declared in the EU register in Brussels each year. The Electoral Commission said that the gifts should have been also declared in the UK within 30 days of receipt, and then stated they were considering whether to take action against him after they reviewed all necessary information supplied to them.[82]

2015 UK general election

In October 2013, Farage announced on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show that he would stand for election as an MP at the United Kingdom general election, 2015, most likely contesting either Folkestone and Hythe or South Thanet; meanwhile he stated that his duty and preference was to focus on his current role as an MEP.[83][84]

In August 2014, Farage was selected as the UKIP candidate for South Thanet following local hustings.[85] On 12 September 2014, he appeared at a pro-union rally with Scottish UKIP MEP David Coburn ahead of Scotland's independence referendum.[86]

In October 2014, Farage was invited to take part in prospective Leaders' debates on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky ahead of the 2015 General Election.[87] UKIP indicated that it would consider taking legal action were the party excluded, in contravention of established broadcast media rules, from televised Party Leaders' debates in advance of the 2015 General Election.[88] The 7-way leaders' TV debate was broadcast by ITV on 2 April 2015 from MediaCityUK, Salford Quays. Of three polls taken immediately afterwards, the ComRes poll had Farage as joint winner, alongside Labour's Ed Miliband and Conservative David Cameron.[89]

In March 2015, Farage declared in his book The Purple Revolution that he would step down as UKIP leader should he not be elected as an MP; he stated his belief that it would not be "credible" for him to lead UKIP without sitting in parliament at Westminster.[90]

On 22 March 2015, Farage was targeted by anti-UKIP activists who chased him and his family from a pub lunch in Downe, Kent. His daughters ran away to hide and were later found to be safe. Farage, when asked what he thought about the incident, called the protesters "scum".[91][92]

2015 resignation announced

Farage was unsuccessful in his bid to become MP for South Thanet[93] and announced his resignation as the leader of UKIP, citing that he is a "man of his word" since he promised to resign if he did not win his seat. However, on 11 May 2015, the party chairman said they would not accept Mr Farage's post-election resignation because the party's "election campaign had been a great success".[94]

A row subsequently developed within the party, in which MEP and campaign chief Patrick O'Flynn described Farage's public image as "snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive" and said he risked turning the party into a "personality cult". O'Flynn accused Farage of paying too much attention to advisors that "would like to take UKIP in the direction of some hard-right, ultra-aggressive American Tea Party-type movement", singling out the NHS and gun control liberalisation as particular issues. Raheem Kassam, Farage's chief of staff was later sacked as a result, whilst O'Flynn insisted he continued to support Farage as party leader.[95] Farage also faced a number of calls from senior figures within the party to stand down.[96]

Following the election a UKIP spokesman acknowledged[97] that after a series of threatening attacks on Farage it had sent an informant into the Thanet branch of the protest organisation Stand Up to UKIP, stating "in order to provide reasonable security it was of course necessary to have information from the inside", an approach he said was used by "a great many security operations tasked with protecting the safety and wellbeing of a targeted individual". According to The Guardian, the informant is alleged to have actively encouraged members to commit criminal damage. Farage had said he was the victim of "trade union-funded activists" who were inciting vandalism.[98]

"Car tampering"

In January 2016 Farage told The Mail on Sunday that he believed his car had been tampered with in October 2015, as he had been forced to stop when his car's wheel nuts came loose. He reported that he had spoken with the French police but did not wish to pursue the matter any further.[99] The Times, however, said Farage's story was untrue, and that Dunkirk prosecutors had no reason to suspect foul play or the police would have started an investigation. The owner of the breakdown garage concerned had said the problem was probably shoddy repair work, but he had been unable to communicate directly with Farage.[100] Farage later said he had made a "terrible, terrible mistake" in speaking to journalists and that a Sunday newspaper had wrongly turned his claims of tampering into an assassination attempt.[101]

Tax avoidance

Although previously denouncing tax avoidance in a speech to the European Parliament, in which he attacked European bureaucrats who earned £100,000 a year and paid 12 per cent tax under EU rules,[102] Farage admitted in 2013 to hiring a tax advisor to set up the Farage Family Educational Trust 1654, a trust Farage claimed to be used "for inheritance purposes", on the Isle of Man.[103] Farage later described this "as standard practice", but insisted he "decided I didn't want it. I never ever used it. The Isle of Man is not a tax haven."[104] Farage has since claimed that this was a mistake, in part because it cost him too much money,[103] but has criticised the political discourse surrounding tax avoidance as a "race to the bottom".[105] The BBC noted that "The Isle of Man was one of the UK's crown dependencies which signed an agreement on corporate disclosure at a recent meeting with David Cameron amid claims that individuals and firms are using offshore locations to reduce their tax liabilities", adding that the Isle of Man rejects any allegations that they are used for the purpose of tax avoidance.[106]

In contrast to the majority of comments from British political leaders, Farage has said that most legal tax avoidance was "okay" after he was questioned on why £45,000 of his income was paid into his private company rather than a personal bank account, saying that criticism of his actions was "ridiculous".[107] In the wake of the Panama Papers leak, Farage also said that the possibility of him releasing his tax return was a "big no" as "I think in this country what people earn is regarded as a private matter",[108] and criticised David Cameron for being hypocritical, especially with regards to his past comments about Jimmy Carr's tax avoidance.[109]

British exit from the EU

Although he was a member of the European Parliament, Farage campaigned to leave the EU as a key figurehead for the British exit from the EU in 2016.[9] Polls on the day of the vote suggested defeat for the leave campaign, though they were successful with 52 per cent of the vote. Jean-Claude Juncker promptly told all UKIP members to leave the Parliament.[110] Farage also made the suggestion of a future second referendum in an interview with the Daily Mirror if Brexit lost but the result was closer than 52-48.[111]

On 28 June 2016 Farage made a speech in the European Parliament claiming that a hypothetical failure for the EU to forge a trade deal with an exited UK would "be far worse for you than it would be for us" to heckling and laughing by Parliament members. He insulted his fellow MEPs, claiming that "virtually none" of them had ever had done "a proper job" in their lives.[112] Media around the world covered Farage's speech, including his comment: "... when I came here 17 years ago, and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me. Well I have to say, you're not laughing now are you?" and his prediction that Britain will not be the only country to leave the EU.[113] In response, Guy Verhofstadt compared Farage's referendum posters with Nazi propaganda and credited the Brexit campaign with causing a multi-billion loss in the stock exchange.[114] Explicitly addressing Farage, Verhofstadt added “... Ok. Let’s be positive. Finally, we’re going to get rid of the biggest waste in the budget of the (European) Union, that we have paid for 17 years, your salary.” [115] Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and a former cardiac surgeon, later responded to the speech, criticising Farage for spreading “toxic untruths” and “lies” such as the claim that, after Brexit, the money formerly contributed by Britain to the EU budget would be invested in healthcare.[116]

Farage resigned as leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party on 4 July 2016,[10] saying that: "It's right that I should now stand aside as leader. What I said during the referendum campaign is I want my country back. What I'm saying today is I want my life back. And it begins right now" and "I have never been, and I have never wanted to be, a career politician."[117] Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, described Farage as a "retro-nationalist",[118] Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said that his legacy is "toxic and unforgivable" and that "He has used his position to whip up hatred against migrants and divert attention from the real challenges this country is facing", and former Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, said: "It's a legacy of stirring up division. I am not sorry to see Nigel Farage leave the political scene".[119] However, Paul Nuttall, a UKIP MEP, tweeted that Farage's "drive and belief shook establishment politics to its core and gave us a voice"[120] and Suzanne Evans, former Deputy Chairman of UKIP, said that Farage's resignation surprised her, but "there is room still in Britain for UKIP".[121] Writing in The Spectator, after this resignation when it was thought he was leaving politics, the journalist Rod Liddle described Farage as: "The most important British politician of the last decade and the most successful. His resignation leaves a hole in our political system. With enormous intelligence and chutzpah and a refreshingly unorthodox approach, he built UKIP up from nothing to become established as our third largest party and succeeded in his overriding ambition – to see the UK vote to leave the European Union."[122]

Following a legal challenge to the use of the Royal Prerogative to invoke article 50, Farage appeared on television with Gina Miller. Miller stated that "politicians had lied all the way through" and the Referendum act clearly said that the result was advisory. Farage also agreed that it was advisory.[123] Farage was appearing on the Andrew Marr Show where he was described by the host as a lifelong political "insurgent." Although he talked of a peaceful protest he warned of unprecedented political anger if Parliament blocked Brexit. Miller pointed out that parliamentary democracy required parliament to debate issues and that Farage had spent the whole Brexit campaign arguing for parliamentary sovereignty. Calling his warnings "the politics of the gutter" Tim Farron said the British judges had merely interpreted British law and that fortunately Farage was the only person talking about taking to the streets.[124] Miller has previously called Farage irresponsible and has blamed him and the tabloid media for death threats against her. She stated in November 2016 that she would not take legal action against those who had threatened her.[125]

On 7 November 2016, Farage announced he would lead a 100,000 strong march to the Supreme court timed for when it starts hearing the Government appeal.[126] On 27 November 2016, it was reported the march was being cancelled out of concerns it could be hijacked by far right groups English Defence League and British National Party.[127] The next day, Paul Nuttall became the new UKIP party leader after Farage decided to step aside to strengthen his relationship with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.[128]

2016 United States presidential elections and relationship with Donald Trump

Farage speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. about the American elections.

In a May 2016 interview with Robert Peston, Farage said that, whilst he had reservations on the views and character of 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, if he were an eligible U.S. voter he would vote for Trump in 2016 presidential election, to prevent Hillary Clinton becoming president.[129] In July 2016, Farage visited the Republican convention in Cleveland with his office manager and "close colleague" George Cottrell.[130] Both Farage and Cottrell appeared on American television and engaged in discussions with Trump's aides[130] before Cottrell was arrested by the FBI on 21 federal counts of fraud, money laundering and extortion.[131] Cottrell has pleaded not guilty to the charges; Farage "was unaware of Cottrell's alleged illegal activities and his arrest by the FBI came as a shock."[131] Cottrell's arrest left Farage unable to access his personal diary.[130]

In October 2016, Farage praised Trump for "dominating" Hillary Clinton, comparing him to a silverback gorilla.[132] Following revelations of a 2005 audio recording in which Trump making lewd remarks about women, Farage said that Trump's comments were "ugly" but described them as "alpha male boasting" and stated that women also made remarks they would not want to see reported.[133] Farage's comments prompted several senior UKIP members to privately express concern, and prompted public condemnation of Farage from two UKIP MEPs, Jane Collins and William Dartmouth.[134] As more publicity appeared about Trump's alleged groping and as the criticisms increased, Farage said he disagreed with Trump's comments about groping women, or his comments on Muslim immigration.[135]

Farage is reported to have had close links with Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, since at least 2014, when Bannon scheduled meetings for Farage with right-wing figures in Washington. In his book, The Purple Revolution: The Year That Changed Everything, Farage described Bannon as "my sort of chap."[136]

After Trump's victory, Farage said that he "couldn't be happier"[137] and in the same interview referred to outgoing president Barack Obama a "loathsome individual" and "that Obama creature", remarks which prompted criticism.[137][138] Farage was the first British politician to speak to Trump after his election, meeting with Trump in his eponymous Manhattan tower.[139]

In November 2016, after becoming president-elect, Trump publicly suggested, via Twitter post, that the UK government name Farage as British ambassador to the United States. Trump's expression of a preference for a foreign nation's ambassador was "a startling break with diplomatic protocol" that was unprecedented in recent U.S. history.[140] The British government rejected the suggestion, with a Downing Street spokesman and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stressing that there was no vacancy in the position.[140][141]

Political stances


From taking office as a UKIP MEP in 1999, Farage has often voiced opposition to the "euro project". His argument is that "a one-size-fits-all interest rate" cannot work for countries with structurally different economies, often using the example of Greece and Germany to emphasise contrast.[142]

Farage strongly opposes the use of bailouts and says that "buying your own debt with taxpayers' money" will not solve the problem and that, "if we do, the next debt crisis won't be a country ... it will be the European Central Bank itself".[143][144]

On the issue of welfare, Farage wants migrants to live in the UK for five years before being able to claim benefits, and for them to be ineligible for tax credits.[145] He believes that tax avoidance is caused by "punitive tax rates", and wants "fairer" taxes as a way to prevent it.[146]

Electoral reform

Farage declared himself personally in favour of the Alternative Vote system of May 2011, saying first-past-the-post would be a "nightmare" for UKIP. The party's stance has to be decided by its central policy-making committee,[147] although Farage has personally expressed a preference for the AV+ system as it "would retain the constituency link and then also the second ballot ensured there were no wasted votes".[148] After the 2015 general election, in which UKIP took a lower proportion of seats than votes, Farage called the first-past-the-post voting system (FPTP) "totally bankrupt",[149] although Farage said: "I completely lost faith in [FPTP] in 2005 when Blair was returned with a 60 seat majority on 36 per cent of the vote, or 22 per cent if you factor in low turnout."[148]

Energy and the environment

Farage has criticised the shutting down of coal-fired power stations and has opposed the policy of creating wind farms as covering "Britain in ugly disgusting ghastly windmills".[150] In a speech made to the European parliament on 11 September 2013, Farage cited news, reported in several Rupert Murdoch-owned papers and the Daily Mail, that the Arctic Sea ice cap had apparently grown from 2012 to 2013, claiming that this was evidence of decades "of Euro-federalism combined with an increasing Green obsession".[151]


Farage takes an anti-prohibitionist position on recreational drugs. In an April 2014 phone-in interview hosted by The Daily Telegraph he argued that the War on Drugs had been lost "many, many years ago", stating that "I hate drugs, I've never taken them myself, I hope I never do, but I just have a feeling that the criminalisation of all these drugs is actually not really helping British society." He argued in favour of a Royal Commission on drugs exploring all avenues as how to most effectively legislate on drugs and deal with their related criminal and public health problems, including the possibility of their legalisation.[152]

According to Farage, the smoking ban in enclosed public spaces is "silly and illiberal"; he recommends separate smoking areas along the lines of some German states. He believes that banning things makes them more attractive to children, and said that "Obesity is killing more people than smoking, you could ban chip shops, you could ban doughnuts. The point is we are big enough and ugly enough to make our own decisions".[153]

In his 2015 book, Farage reflected that based on his experiences, "the NHS is so over-stretched that if you can afford private health care, you should take it, particularly for diagnostics and preventative medicine. In the NHS, the system is so battered and poorly run that unless you are really lucky, you will fall through the cracks. The NHS is, however, astonishingly good at critical care. But what testicular cancer taught me is that the NHS will probably let you down if you need screening, fast diagnosis and an operation at a time that suits you". He supports reform within the NHS, saying that its resources have become stretched due to increased immigration, and blaming Labour for high costs of new hospitals built through private finance initiatives.[154]

Farage says that money which the NHS could spend on treating taxpayers with serious conditions is instead spent on recent immigrants with HIV, an opinion which has been controversial. A YouGov poll found 50 per cent of those taking part to support Farage, with 37 per cent saying that he is scaremongering.[155]

Independence Day national holiday

Farage is a strong voice in the debate over a British Independence Day being observed within the United Kingdom, on the 23 June each year. On 24 June 2016, in a televised speech on the morning of the Brexit result, he stated; "let June 23rd go down in our history as our Independence Day",[156][157] and later said that it "must now be made a national holiday."[158]


Farage has said that he supports Muslim immigrants who integrate to British society, but is against those who are "coming here to take us over", citing John Howard's Australia as a government to emulate in that regard.[159] He told a Channel 4 documentary in 2015 that there is a "fifth column" of Islamic extremists in the United Kingdom.[160] Farage has said that the "basic principle" of Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood speech" was correct.[161]

In a 2014 interview on the LBC radio station, Farage said that he would feel "concerned" if a group of Romanian men moved next door to him. When interviewer James O'Brien inquired what would be the difference between Romanian men moving next door and a group of German children, in reference to Farage's German wife and children, Farage replied: "You know the difference."[162][163][164] He later expanded on this on the UKIP website, explaining that "if we were able to operate a proper work permit scheme for Romanian nationals, with suitable checks, as recommended by UKIP, then nobody would need to be concerned if a group of Romanian nationals moved in next door to them."[165]

Farage called on the British government in 2013 to accept more refugees from the Syrian Civil War.[166] He later clarified that those refugees should be of the country's Christian minority, due to the existence of nearer Muslim-majority safe countries.[167] During the ensuing migration crisis, Farage alleged that the majority of people claiming to be refugees were economic migrants, and that some were Islamic State militants.[168]

Foreign policy

Farage is critical of Britain's involvement in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and cited their financial and human expenses and poor outcomes as reasons for Britain to not become involved militarily in Syria. He has expressed fears that rebel forces in Syria may be Islamic extremists.[169] He said about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that "Nobody should forget that the most devastating direct consequences of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been suffered by the likes of Mr Blair, but by the civilian populations of these countries and of course by our own brave service personnel".[170] Farage stated that migrant exodus from Libya had been caused by NATO military intervention, approved by David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, in the civil war in Libya.[171]

Farage has criticised Britain's close ties with Saudi Arabia.[172] He said: "I think we need a complete re-appraisal of who Saudi Arabia are, what our relationship with them is, and stop extremist talk turning the minds of young, male Muslims in this country."[173]

When asked in 2014 which leaders he admired, Farage said, "As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin. The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant. Not that I approve of him politically. How many journalists in jail now?"[174] Farage has criticised what he sees as EU militarism agitating western Ukrainians against Russia.[175] Later, in 2015, he said about Putin that "The European Union, and the West, view Putin as the devil. They want to view Putin as the devil. I’m not saying I want take him around for tea and meet mum on Sunday afternoon … But the point is, on this bigger overall battle [against ISIS in Syria] we need to start recognizing we’re on the same side".[170][176]

Campaign against Irish fiscal treaty

In May 2012. Farage was interviewed by Karen Coleman of the Irish Independent about the campaign in Ireland against the Irish fiscal treaty. Ireland had no anti-EU MEPs and according to Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP, UKIP's involvement was counterproductive as "Irish voters strongly dislike foreigners like Mr Farage telling them how to vote." Coleman who believed the campaign had "little to do with what's best for Ireland" described the campaign as "particularly egregious" and said the interview became 'nasty' when she asked Farage about the campaign funding.[67]

"Interference" in Austrian election

During election campaigning in the Austrian presidential election, 2016, Farage announce that Norbert Hofer, the "far-right" Freedom Party candidate, would call for a "Brexit style referendum" if he won. Hofer however ruled out a referendum and asked on Farage not to interfere in Austria's internal politics.[177]

Firearms policy

In 2014, Farage said that it is UKIP policy for handguns in the UK to be legalised and licensed, describing the current legislation, brought in after the Dunblane school massacre, as "ludicrous".[178] He has also said that there was no link between responsible handgun ownership and gun crime.[179]

Electoral performance

Farage has contested several elections under the UKIP banner:

UK Parliament elections

Date of election Constituency Party Votes % of votes Result
1994 by-election Eastleigh UKIP 952 1.7 Not elected
1997 general election Salisbury UKIP 3,332 5.7 Not elected
2001 general election Bexhill and Battle UKIP 3,474 7.8 Not elected
2005 general election South Thanet UKIP 2,079 5.0 Not elected
2006 by-election Bromley and Chislehurst UKIP 2,347 8.1 Not elected
2010 general election Buckingham UKIP 8,410 17.4 Not elected
2015 general election South Thanet UKIP 16,026 32.4 Not elected

European Parliament elections

Date of election Constituency Party Votes Percentage of votes Result
1994 European election Itchen, Test and Avon UKIP 12,423 5.4 Not elected
1999 European election South East England UKIP 144,514 9.7 Elected
2004 European election South East England UKIP 431,111 19.5 Elected
2009 European election South East England UKIP 440,002 18.8 Elected
2014 European election South East England UKIP 751,439 32.1 Elected

Personal life

Farage lives in Single Street,[180] a hamlet in the London Borough of Bromley, "around the corner from his mother."[15] He has been married twice. In 1988 he married Irish nurse Gráinne Hayes, by whom he has two children: Samuel (born 1989) and Thomas (born 1991). The couple divorced in 1997.[16] In 1999 he married Kirsten Mehr, a German national, and they have two children, Victoria (born 2000) and Isabelle (born 2005).[181] He has spoken of how his children have been teased because of their relation to him.[182]

He has made reference to his German wife in response to criticisms that he is somehow "anti-Europe", while he himself says he is merely anti-EU.[14] Farage employs his wife as his parliamentary secretary[183] and in April 2014 he explained that "nobody else could do that job".[183][184]

On 25 November 1985, Farage was hit by a car after a night out, and suffered injury to his head and left leg, the latter nearly requiring amputation. He was in casts for 11 months, but recovered, and the nurse who treated him became his first wife.[185] On 26 December 1986, Farage first felt symptoms of what was later discovered to be testicular cancer. He had the left testicle removed, and the cancer had not spread to any other organs.[154]

In 2010, Farage published a memoir, entitled Fighting Bull (Flying Free in paperback), outlining the founding of UKIP and his personal and political life so far.[186] A second book, The Purple Revolution: The Year That Changed Everything, was released by Biteback Publishing in 2015.[154]

Farage is also a keen cricket fan and has appeared on Test Match Special.[187] He appeared in an advertisement for the bookmaker Paddy Power ahead of golf's 2014 Ryder Cup.[188] However, due to spinal injuries since his 2010 plane crash, he cannot play golf.[189] He likes to relax by fishing alone at night on the Kent coast.[182] Farage is a smoker[190] and also fond of beer, this forming part of his public image.[191] Farage is a member of the East India Club.[192]

Farage is a Christian. In 2014 he described himself as a "somewhat lapsed" member of the Church of England.[193]


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External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nigel Farage.
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Party political offices
Preceded by
Alan Sked
Chair of the UK Independence Party
Succeeded by
Mike Nattrass
Preceded by
Roger Knapman
Leader of the UK Independence Party
Succeeded by
The Lord Pearson of Rannoch
New office Chair of Europe of Freedom and Democracy
Position abolished
Preceded by
Jeffrey Titford
Leader of the UK Independence Party
Succeeded by
Diane James
New office Chair of Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy
Preceded by
Diane James
Leader of the UK Independence Party

Succeeded by
Paul Nuttall
European Parliament
New constituency Member of the European Parliament
for South East England

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