Three cheers for Nigel Farage!
Name not familiar? He’s the former leader of Britain’s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) who is also – for a while yet -- a member of the European Parliament. And this week, he did what so many seasoned politicians in Europe and the U.S. are afraid to do: he spoke his mind.
Farage, who is a Fox News contributor, told shocked and angry members of parliament from the rest of the continent that he is glad his country has decided to leave the European Union. That’s what happened last week when Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, formally embracing the results of last year’s shockwave vote for a “Brexit.”
In the face of the outrage across the continent that Britain would dare wish to govern itself, Farage, his voice rising above boos and jeers, told his fellow members of parliament: “You’re behaving like the Mafia. You think we’re a hostage. We are free to go!”
The comparison to a criminal organization earned Farage a stiff reproach from the Italian occupying the president’s chair in the chamber, but what does he care? He was speaking for the millions of Britons who have expressed their disdain with being dictated to by an entity that has little regard for the unique history of Great Britain.
Farage referred scathingly to a demand that Britain pay the European Union tens of millions of dollars as punishment for quitting their club, “a figure that has been clearly plucked out of the air, effectively a form of ransom demand,” said Farage. “You should be making us an offer we can’t refuse.”
Farage was an early supporter of pulling out of Europe. For too long, he argued, the country has ceded decisions to the European Union in Brussels. It had lost control of its ability to control its borders. And it was losing its identity as a proudly independent island nation with a rich history of economic freedom and self- government.
The Farage speech, and the outrage it stoked in Strasbourg, where the European Parliament meets, would have gotten more attention here, across the ocean, had we not been embroiled in our own heated rhetoric about the nomination of Neal Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Or ObamaCare. Or tax reform. Or Susan Rice’s funny way of getting information about her fellow Americans.
But Farage deserves to be noticed – even if you don’t agree with Brexit. Because he said what he meant. He wasn’t talking for the TV cameras. He wasn’t pulling his punches. And that is a virtue in short supply in politics these days.