Nigel Farage is widely seen as a key figure behind the vote to leave the EU in 2016, and after dabbling in US politics with Donald Trump he is now returning to his life’s work with a rally in Yorkshire to try and ‘save Brexit’ . Arj Singh reports.
Tensions in Westminster are reaching boiling point as Brexit negotiations draw to a close.
Depending on who you talk to, either the outline of a deal is in sight or Britain is hurtling towards a collapse in talks and a cliff-edge departure from the EU.
Against this backdrop, Theresa May faces overwhelming pressure from MPs in her own party, although Downing Street insists the Prime Minister was always ready for this.
As he prepares to speak at a “save Brexit” rally in Remain-voting Harrogate today, Nigel Farage gives the impression that he too was always ready for this.
The MEP quit as Ukip leader following the 2016 vote to leave the EU, but he has never really gone away, much to the annoyance of his opponents.
And having dabbled with Donald Trump in America, he is now back on home soil and turning his hand to his life’s work, in pushing for a harder Brexit than the PM is offering and calling for her to be ousted.
“She’s not only the worst Prime Minister of my lifetime but I think the most dishonest as well,” he says.
“How you can stand up there again and again and say Brexit means Brexit, we’re taking back control of our laws, our money and our borders and now, bad though Chequers was, she wants to try and sign up the entire UK to a customs agreement for goodness knows how many years.
“Saying one thing and doing the opposite again and again and again, I’ve completely run out of patience with her and I think frankly much of the country has too.”
Mr Farage however fails to name a chosen successor and fears the time may have passed for Tory Brexiteers to strike, suggesting “the moment to topple her” was when David Davis and Boris Johnson quit the Cabinet over her Chequers plan in July.
“I think there has been a lack of courage frankly from the Eurosceptics so far,” he says.
“Doing it now is difficult because of the (withdrawal) timetable and I fully understand that.
“But I think she, (Chancellor Philip) Hammond, all these people are a major obstruction to the fundamental change people voted for.
“We need someone that believes in Brexit, that understands what Brexit actually is, which very simply is us becoming an independent country again.”
Mr Farage may paint Mrs May’s task as simple, but the previous two and a half years since the referendum suggest otherwise.
And he makes light of the importance of maintaining a soft Irish border, an issue that threatens to collapse talks completely, and the importance of which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar emphasised to EU leaders this week by showing them a newspaper interview with the family of a victim of an IRA customs post bombing in 1972.
Mr Farage is typically flippant: “What problem? What is a hard border? Do you want 100,000 troops, a million troops, a Trump-style wall?
“What are we talking about here?”
He accepts his Brexit logic will inevitably lead to no deal, as the EU cannot sign an agreement without some provision to maintain a soft border.
But he insists there is nothing to fear from no deal, calling for more education of the public about the opportunities, without himself offering any.
“I don’t think the majority of the country have been exposed to the argument about a no deal Brexit, because all they have had is the multinationals, the big banks, big politics saying this would be a cliff edge,” he says.
“There is an awful lot more explanation that needs to be done.”
There is no denying that Mr Farage has captured the public mood on occasions in his career, and his assessment of where voters are on Brexit is difficult to disagree with.
“A very clear majority want the Government to simply get on with it, there’s a sort of endlessness about this now,” he says.
But his particular brand of nostalgia shines through when asked if he agrees with Mrs May’s assessment that Britain’s best days lie ahead.
“Not under her, taking us into something post-March that arguably is worse than where we are now.”
In January, Mr Farage suggested he may even countenance a second referendum to try and seal in place a hard Brexit, but he now distances himself from the idea.
“I fear the sheer damage it would do to people’s faith in democracy particularly as you had something like 2.5m people who voted in that referendum who had never voted in their lives before, so it does not send a great message,” he says.
“I’m not going to support it and if it comes to it we’ll just have to go again.”
He claims Remainers know anyway they would actually lose a second referendum and so are secretly campaigning for something else entirely.
“The bigger likelihood is that what we could face over the next few weeks is an attempt to suspend Article 50.
“Those that are pushing for the so-called People’s Vote know that they would lose.
“That probably is the biggest danger we face from a Leaver’s perspective.”
If that is the biggest danger, the best hope for arch Eurosceptics like Mr Farage is surely now negotiations collapsing.
But it could have all been so different if the PM had taken up his offer to help with the exit negotiations, he says.
“I did volunteer. The real idea was to tour Bavaria, the French wine regions to try and get European business to put pressure on their governments.
“Unsurprisingly under Mrs May, they did not want me.”
No plans to campaign for Trump in US mid-terms
Nigel Farage will not campaign for Donald Trump in the upcoming mid-term elections in the United States, while admitting it is a “crucial moment” for his presidency.
The former Ukip leader, who was pictured with Mr Trump’s in the tycoon’s gold lift following his 2016 US election victory, has been working as a commentator on American news channels.
But Mr Farage says he has not spoken to the billionaire “for a bit”, joking: “I’m not Russian but I am a foreigner so I can’t be too closely involved with it all.”
He has not been interviewed by the FBI investigation into Russian collusion in that US election despite being named a “person of interest”, and claims suggestions he was “running memory sticks from the White House to Julian Assange” are “hysterical”.