Nigel Farage urged by Widdecombe to return to fray

Nigel Farage warns against Swiss-style deal

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Brexit stalwart Ann Widdecombe has urged Nigel Farage to make a sensational return to the political fray to finish the job he started. And the ex-Tory MP and Brexit Party MEP said she would consider getting back in the ring herself if the circumstances were right.

Also this week, Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, met with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris in a bid to resolve once and for all issues surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol, the mechanism aimed at preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The meeting came just days after an opinion poll published in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend suggested 33 percent of Tory voters now believe quitting the bloc has created more problems than it solved.

Ms Widdecombe said the survey’s findings reflected the fact that Brexiteers were struggling to get their point across almost seven years on from the 2016 referendum.

She told “I don’t believe that the Brexit Party should have dissolved quite as quickly as it did.

“Because I think there was still a job to be done. We’d got Brexit, that was quite true but we had to make sure that the Brexit we got was meaningful and that we took advantage of it.

“And we’re not doing that and therefore the other side are winning the propaganda war because we’ve had COVID, We’ve had Ukraine and they both brought enormous economic problems to the country.”

It was, therefore, very easy for Remainers to emphasise the downside of severing ties with Europe, pointed out Ms Widdecombe, who served along Mr Farage as one of 29 Brexit Party MEPs in 2019.

She continued: “I actually wrote back to a correspondent on my website who claimed Brexit had been an unmitigated disaster quoting all the statistics for what’s gone right, since Brexit, that are entirely due to Brexit. But we don’t hear that now. You’re never going to get it from the BBC

“I think we should be very proud of Brexit, we should be sticking to Brexit and we should be making the most of it now and we never made the most of it.”

“I’ve always said there are good arguments for coming out, there are good arguments for staying in, but there was never any argument for coming out and then behaving as if we were still in, which is what we’re doing.”

Typically, people outlived their causes but the Brexit Party had done the “exact opposite”, Ms Widdecombe argued.

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“Normally I say that people outlive their causes. But Brexit did exactly the opposite.

“The Brexit Party ran its course then but unfortunately that wasn’t that.

“At the time, we had Boris and it was forgivable to think, ‘well, we are actually going to make something of Brexit’.

“Now we’ve got a bunch of Remainers and particularly the chancellor, and it’s different and we haven’t got a cohesive party focused entirely on Brexit.”

Mr Farage thought he had won the Brexit war and reasoned it was now up to others to build on that, Ms Widdecombe suggested.

She said: “It’s a bit like a general winning a victory. He comes home but he doesn’t expect then to have to run the show.

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“But unfortunately, I think the legacy of Brexit has been so badly betrayed, that we need do somebody yelling the benefits of Brexit.”

Brexit had had major benefits for the food and drink industry for example which have largely gone unheralded Ms Widdecombe insisted.

She added: “I don’t think we’re going back into the EU, I think that’s a nonsense. But what we will do is build endless bridges with the EU, letting them call the shots, as we’ve done over Northern Ireland and that is going back in all but name.”

Asked whether she was ready to return to the fray herself, Ms Widdecombe said: “It depends what we were being asked to do but is the answer is yes if we were to form some sort of alliance to focus on Brexit and the benefits of Brexit and to hold the Government to account.

“What Nigel thought he had to do was hold the government to account to make sure that we came out with a good trade deal and then that was it, there we all were on January 31 allegedly having just come out of the EU and there was still a massive amount of work to be done.

“What we actually need is a standard bearer, who will be shouting the odds.

“I still think it’s got to be Farage, because we need I think to hear from somebody who people trust on this issue, and they do trust Farage on the Brexit issue.”

As an opponent of proportional representation, Ms Widdecombe emphasised that she would not countenance joining the Reform Party, led by Richard Tice, into which the Brexit Party evolved.

Mr Farage, who now fronts his own show on GB News – but Ms Widdecombe did not think this in itself would be an impediment.

She said: “He can use his media career. GB News is very sympathetic to Brexit. We should have a weekly slot somewhere, good news on Brexit because nobody knows it’s happening.

“And that’s why 33 percent say Brexit was a bad thing, because they don’t know what’s happening. Come back, Nigel, your country needs you!” has contacted Mr Farage for comment.

Conservative party is ‘ungovernable’ says Ann Widdecombe

Among the public as a whole, 57 per cent of the 2000 people interviewed by Opinium for Sunday’s poll said Brexit was creating more problems than it was solving.

A joint statement issued yesterday by the UK Government and the European Commission said: “The meeting was cordial and constructive.

“They underlined the EU and UK’s shared commitment to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its parts, while protecting the integrity of both the EU Single Market and the UK internal market.”

While a range of critical issues need to be resolved to find a way forward, an agreement had reached today on the way forward regarding the specific question of the EU’s access to UK IT systems, the statement continued.

It concluded: “They noted this work was a critical prerequisite to building trust and providing assurance, and provided a new basis for EU-UK discussions.

“EU and UK technical teams will work rapidly to scope the potential for solutions in different areas on the basis of this renewed understanding, and the Foreign Secretary, the Northern Ireland Secretary and Vice President Sefcovic would take stock of progress on January 16.”

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