‘Pivotal moment’ for Brexit over a pint in the Albion
NIGEL FARAGE has revealed that a drink in a Guernsey pub was a ‘pivotal moment’ for Brexit.
Speaking to the Guernsey Press, the former Ukip leader said that he had popped into the Albion in St Peter Port for a pint during a visit to the island while on a cruise on the Queen Elizabeth in June 2015.
Mr Farage ended up having a drink with a fellow Brexit campaigner.
He said this conversation with Matthew Elliott, who went on to play a pivotal role in the official leave referendum campaign, proved to be an ‘inspiring moment’ – setting in train the establishment of Leave.EU.
Leave.EU was not the officially designated ‘out’ campaign group, but was backed by businessman Arron Banks and forced the ‘pace’ on issues such as immigration, said the former Ukip leader – although Mr Elliott said Mr Farage ‘would say that wouldn’t he’.
Mr Farage said: ‘I was on a short-term cruise out of Southampton. It was a three-day cruise and the one docking off point was Guernsey.
‘So, I came for a run ashore, came and visited your lovely church, which I’ve been to before, popped into the nearest convenient pub – the Albion –partly because I fancied a pint. I quite like your local beer. It’s pretty good.
‘And secondly because everybody in your High Street in St Peter Port wanted to talk to me: “I can’t cope with this, I need refuge”. So I went into the pub with a mate. And then Matthew Elliott obviously saw I was there.
‘He came in and he made clear that he and his little gang of Tory boys were angling to run the referendum. OK, fine. So, we chatted.
‘I realised during the course of that conversation that he did not want to talk about the really tough issues like immigration, things that would actually win us the referendum.
‘I formed the impression that for them to run a referendum campaign, they thought they’d lose, that it was all about positioning for who should be the next Tory prime minister and who got the top jobs in Number 10, and all the rest of it.
‘I reported this back to Arron Banks and said: “Look actually if we just stand aside and let these boys run it, there will not be a proper campaign. They won’t not get themselves into gear until it’s probably too late”.
‘It was quite an inspirational moment really. It made me realise that we had to do something, and that was why Leave.EU was formed and we forced the pace.
‘We got them up off their backsides. We took on the tough issues, which in the end they took on as well because they realised that was the way to win the referendum. So it was quite a pivotal meeting.’
Mr Farage added: ‘I think what happened in Guernsey was a realisation to me that we couldn’t allow the establishment to fight the establishment without a challenger being in there to ginger the whole thing up.
‘That drink in the pub on Guernsey made me realise just how bland, frankly, they were going to be in their approach.
‘Looking back on it, to be honest it was a pivotal moment.’