In the final installment of the three part interview with Brexit Leader and GB News commentator Nigel Farage (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here), the former member of the European Parliament shares his thoughts on WNBA star Brittney Griner’s conviction for drugs in a Russian court, the root of President Joe Biden’s distrust towards Great Britain, Boris Johnson’s likely successor as Prime Minister and the future of the British Conservative Party, and opines on the close cultural ties between the US and UK in advance of the New Orleans Saints’ “home game” in London this October.
MB: How would you describe the relationship between the United States under President Joe Biden and the United Kingdom?
NF: Weak. Biden has got this very twisted view of Irish history. He has been sympathetic and even photographed with (IRA) terrorists. He has this complete misinterpretation of the truth about Ireland’s history with (the United Kingdom) and it clouds everything to do with his view of us. Plus he and (Speaker Nancy) Pelosi are super-globalists. They love the European Union. They hate Brexit.
Yet you know what, despite that, now that COVID’s hardest part is over, London is full of Americans at the moment. And we are all flying to Florida in huge amounts. We are still the biggest foreign investor in America. America is the biggest foreign investor in the UK. The cultural bonds that tie us are closer than they’ve ever been.
You know something. It’s been almost exactly forty years ago I went to work for Drexel Burnham Lambert. Our accents are even closer to what they were forty years ago. I really mean that. So as two countries the relationship is stunning and I think we maximize that relationship when we have an American president and a UK prime minister who see eye to eye. We’ve had slightly cooler periods but you know what, it doesn’t change anything. Those bonds are so close.
MB: The incarceration of WNBA player Brittney Griner has become a cause célèbre in social media circles. With the nine year sentence that was handed down by a Russian court, do you think the United States should work to secure her release?
NF: Yes I do. Absolutely. Back in 19th century England, one British citizen was imprisoned by the Greek authorities and (British Foreign Secretary) Lord Palmerston sent gunboats and said he would flatten Athens unless they freed the citizen. That’s where the term “gunboat diplomacy” comes from.
It is the job of governments to protect their citizens, even if they’ve done bad. You get them back to face justice in your country, under your system.
MB: As the father of Brexit and having successfully led the drive for the United Kingdom to assert its sovereignty from the EU, what’s Nigel Farage’s next mission?
NF: You know, it’s very difficult for a human being to have more than one mission in life. I’ve been fortunate in that I found mine. Most people go through life and never ever ever find their big mission. I did. I was 27 or 28 or 29 when I saw this huge issue, or at least I thought it was a huge issue. And I kind of devoted the better part of my adult life to it at massive personal cost. I mean massive personal cost.
People say to me, as you’ve just done, what’s the next big one. It’s very unlikely any cause will ever grip me quite ever the same way as the one to win the independence back of my country. Now that doesn’t mean I’m completely shot. It doesn’t mean I’ve got no life left in me…I’ve got plenty. And I still want to influence opinion. To be a part of national, and to be fair as we are here at CPAC, international debate. The issues we discussed this morning are things that I feel very strongly and very passionately about. And I’ll do my best to alter them. I’m currently doing more journalism than politics. I may return to politics at some point, I may not. But in terms of your question, mission. I think probably that bit is over.
MB: How do you see the succession to Boris Johnson as prime minister playing out?
NF: Liz Truss will win. I really believe she will win. She is making the right noises. I don’t know what to believe, you know. She wanted to get rid of the queen when she was a young adult. She was a hard leftist. She voted “remain” (in Brexit) just a handful of years ago and now she’s “Mrs. Thatcher” and a Brexiteer. Don’t ask me (laughs).
The one big hope is that she is so disconnected with reality that she might do quite good (laughs). She might end up doing a good job (laughs).
I think the British Conservative Movement has been in decline for many years. I think I exposed their failings on a number of issues.
Funny, I listened to their pledges and it’s literally the UKIP Manifesto that they’re coming out with to the public. They were saved by Brexit and arguably they were saved by me.
Boris (Johnson) would not have been PM had I not done what I’ve done. And certainly not with an 80 seat majority. I think they’re going to lose the next election and I think that may be a good thing. The British Conservative Movement needs to reexamine and rediscover who they are and what they are.
MB: On to the last question and shifting from 10 Downing Street London to Airline Drive in Metairie. The Hayride is a Louisiana-based politics and culture website and football is a big part of the local culture. The New Orleans Saints will cross the pond this October to face the Minnesota Vikings in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Do you think London is a viable home for an NFL franchise and what level of interest for American football is there in the United Kingdom?
NF: If you had asked me that question 20 years ago I would have laughed at you. I literally would have laughed at you. And then my rugby playing, rugby fanatic uncle started talking about NFL.
What do we need NFL for? We’ve got rugby! We don’t need this.
It goes back to my earlier comment, about how incredibly close the two countries have become. London adores NFL. And by the way, Tottenham Hotspur’s ground, which I’ve been to, is literally one of the best sports stadiums in the world. It’ll be a complete sell-out. There’ll be a black market for the tickets that’ll sell at four times, five times face value. And yes, we’ve discovered an appetite for NFL.
And here’s the other thing: Americans have started playing rugby. America may very well be hosting the Rugby World Cup in a few years’ time. And around Chicago there are cricket clubs. I mean dozens of cricket clubs, mainly via the Hindu community who live there and have done very well in America. So again, we’ve had this extraordinary cultural interchange.
Final point before we finish, it made me laugh. 2020 I went to 8 or 9 Trump rallies in the final weeks of the campaign, and he’d drag me up on stage as he does. And because of COVID many of them were held at airports. Air Force One would arrive and the music would start playing and it’s a play list that Trump uses. He loves music. He has even deejayed at Mar-a-Lago. This was the America First tour about American manufacturing, America this and America that and it’s all about America. And what’s the music he played? Elton John. David Bowie. The Beatles. Rolling Stones. (laughs)
And actually if I’m in the car and if I’ve had enough of news and sort of flick through the dial and put a commercial radio station on, I couldn’t tell you these days if it’s whether an American singer or an English singer. Couldn’t tell you! And you know my kids watch as much American television as they do British programming and they wouldn’t even know the difference.
And so I think that’s a nice way to end this interview is that we are incredibly close as countries and cultures. I think we like each other very very much. I come here a lot. And I’ve got to the point that most people here at CPAC and America they think I’m an American with a funny accent. (laughs)