Brexit mastermind Nigel Farage is looking to repeat the impossible by helping Italy liberate itself from the EU’s shackles
British politician Farage has been revealed as a behind-the-scenes figure in advising a new ‘Italexit’ party that will campaign for a return of Italy’s sovereignty, fuelled by a rising tide of anti-EU sentiment.
Just when you thought he’d been consigned to history, Mr. Brexit himself, Nigel Farage, is back. Only this time, he’s franchising out his brand to take another swing at the establishment.
Italexit is all systems go after publicly confirming its plan and Farage is on board. The leader of the party that was officially launched on Thursday, Gianluigi Paragone, is an Italian senator who was expelled from the Five Star Movement after refusing to vote in line with the party’s wishes.
Paragone is a charismatic speaker, has right-wing leanings and was formerly the editor of the nationalist party Northern League’s newspaper.
“I met Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party in London, who triumphed in the British referendum by bringing the United Kingdom out of the European Union cage,” Paragone said earlier this week. “I confronted him on the present and future of a truly sovereign country which, even more so after Brexit, is able to give real answers to citizens.”
Even with a solid CV, Paragone is a mere rookie and Farage is the Grand Wizard. No one would dispute that without him, Brexit wouldn’t have happened. Farage drove the bus at top speed, crashing through any obstacle that got in his way. He’s often seen bobbing about in the English Channel documenting the illegal arrival of immigrants.
He beat the drum for national pride and escaped the clutches of EU bureaucrats. His rivals brand him racist, heartless, and arrogant.
What maybe isn’t so widely known is that Farage was the classic Trojan Horse. He had been a member of the European Parliament since 1999. The reason he lost his seat?
He never did, it disappeared when his life’s work was realised as a result of the 52/48 referendum result. His Brexit Party won the most seats of any in the 2019 European Elections, even though it had to forfeit them months later.
So while the launch of Paragone’s party might appear on the surface as a PR stunt, that would be naive. Farage has proved his game plan works.
The huge advantage he has over many other politicians is, he only ever had one policy.
So he was able to adapt his messaging, understand what struck a chord and refine it.
It wasn’t by chance that Donald Trump asked Farage to show him a few tricks.
After the key second Trump-Clinton debate, it was the Englishman who worked the post-debate spin room. That’s why he was the first British politician to meet the new American president in person, even before our prime minister.
Even though Trump’s 2020 campaign rally was a disaster in Tulsa last month, Farage was again summoned to offer advice, with high-level strings pulled so that the US travel ban did not apply.
In the USA, only twenty four hours from Tulsa. pic.twitter.com/9fQipWYr3a— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 20, 2020
With all that in the tank, Italexit appears to be ripe for Farage.
A study last year showed Italians are the most pessimistic in the EU, with 42 percent thinking they benefit from membership. Only 38 percent think their voice counts in the EU. Both of these figures are significantly below the average across all member states.
Paragone said: “The euro was tailor-made for Germany. Today we express political choice in elections but governments have to submit to policies ordered by the EU. We need full control.”
The rise of the Northern League is illuminating in terms of showing attitudes bubbling under the surface in Italy.
Adding further grist to the mill is, because Italy is Europe’s closest point to Libya, there is rampant arrival of thousands of illegal immigrants. The issue has become a flashpoint.
Finally, Covid-19 really lit the Italexit flame. The country was the hardest hit on the continent, with feelings of being left twisting in the wind by the EU. Even though the recently agreed €750 billion EU Recovery Fund will see Italy get €208.8 billion.
But there’s still an undertone that the northern states led by the Netherlands would have preferred to give far less.
Plus, the money comes with pressure to reform Italy’s pension system which sees its workers able to retire at 62, earlier than most Europeans.
The feeling on all these issues is dependent on your political perspective. What’s not in doubt is that they’re ideal for Farage to exploit. He doesn’t have to do the heavy lifting that he did in the UK, there’s already plenty of Italian destabilisation.
If he decides to, Farage could provide that pivotal shove to bring it all crashing down.
Discount him at your peril. Scores of British politicians armed to the teeth with degrees from Oxford and Cambridge and years of experience made that mistake. He knows how to connect to ordinary people and get them listening. This is his comfort zone.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.