Farage sobers up? UKIP leader ditches booze for January

UK Independent Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage enjoys a pint of beer in a pub in central London (AFP Photo/Ben Stansall)
Nigel Farage has begun the New Year with an “unpredictable” resolution: to keep away from the booze until the end of January.

The leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), often pictured with a pint glass in his hand, was revealed to be partaking in a “dry January,” though he later told The Telegraph he was not raising money for charity as is customary, but was taking part as a health initiative.

It was completely impromptu,” Farage told the paper. “I woke up one morning and thought, ‘You know what, I just don’t fancy a drink.’”

The leader admitted he was a “boozer, not an alcoholic,” saying he felt he could manage the challenge “quite easily.”

“I am very lucky – I am a drinker, often quite a steady one. I am a boozer, but I am not an alcoholic. And that is the point,” he said.

“People say, ‘Oh my God, how are you going to manage?’ Do you know what? Quite easily, actually.”

“It is the working hours that kill me – not the boozing – and it is going to be a busy 122 days [until the election],” he added.

Reuters/Luke MacGregor

UKIP is looking to build upon the two parliamentary seats it gained in 2014 in May’s General Election, and while early manifesto shots have been fired between Labour and the Conservatives, this opening gambit from Farage grabbed its own space in the news media.

He told Sky News’ Murnaghan program: “I started before the New Year. I’m not being particularly virtuous, it’s just I need a break. It does us all good to have a break now and then.”

The Sun newspaper helpfully provided a poster for pubs to stick behind their bars, just to make the controversial leader’s task that little bit harder.

The satirical poster, reading “Do not serve this man,” is accompanied by a mocking Twitter campaign they have called #PintWatch, where readers are urged to send in their photos of Farage drinking in any pubs.

Some apparent fans of Farage tweeted their support and solidarity. Others speculated the move was another headline-grabbing PR stunt from the party leader, who appeared to get raucously drunk on reality TV show Gogglebox.

In his column in The Independent, Farage claimed he would not be seen drinking alcohol for the whole month.

“Next time you catch me on the campaign trail in a pub, I shall have a glass of orange juice in my hand,” he wrote. “How’s that for unpredictable?”