In one of the more bizarre outcomes of the European parliamentary elections contested in the UK, the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar - a staunch Remain constituency - has found itself in a state of near political purgatory because of the Brexit Party.
In one of the quirks of the UK’s constitutional relationship with its OTs (largely left unchallenged in the recent Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry), Gibraltar is the only OT ‘allowed’ to vote as a unit in the EU elections, UK elections and the 2016 referendum.
It is grouped in the UK’s South West region where the pro-Leave Brexit Party of Nigel Farage has swept the polls as it has done elsewhere in the country.
The arch-Brexiteer’s party, just formed a few weeks ago, has captured 32% of the national votes, winning nine of the eleven regions in the UK - including Gibraltar which had voted overwhelmingly for the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats.
The Brexit Party is now guaranteed 29 seats in the European Parliament, making it the largest UK party by far in Brussels - albeit until October this year, the final extended deadline for the UK to leave the EU.
This is a repeat of Nigel Farage’s feat of making his anti-EU party the main UK voice in the European parliament.
A 20-year veteran of the EU parliament, although he has never held a seat in the UK House of Commons, Mr Farage had previously taken UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) into the EU’s halls of power on a platform of taking the UK out of Europe.
His double-decade bid is succeeding on the dichotomous basis of campaigning and getting paid (plus a guaranteed pension) to represent the UK in the same bloc that he wants it to leave.
His relentless efforts to drag the UK out of the EU achieved it first significant rewarded when former prime minister David Cameron, buckled under fears that Farage’s then UKIP party was making inroads against the Conservatives on home soil.
Cameron agreed to a referendum. The rest is history still unfolding.
Farage has since left UKIP - recently denouncing it as veering too far to the right of British politics - and in the process soundly trouncing it at the polls.
But not only has his so far single-agenda Brexit Party ‘swept the floor with UKIP, it has hammered the Labour Party and dealt a savage blow to the Conservatives.
The ruling party’s state of Brexit flux has been compounded by the forced resignation announcement just last week of Prime Minister Theresa May over her handling of the UK’s Farage-fuelled exit from the EU.
With the Conservatives now descending into what appears to be a bruising leadership battle to replace Mrs May, after orchestrating her demise, Nigel Farage has upped the ante by inserting himself into their fray.
He is now demanding to be part of the Brexit negotiating process although he is not in government and not even in the British parliament.
His demand is purely on the strength of his Brexit Party’s showing in the EU elections.
But Farage’s underlying strategy is as clear as it is ominous.
He stands a chance of finally getting into parliament personally or via his Brexit Party at an upcoming by-election.
It’s clear that he is also banking on a possible alliance with a Tory candidate of similar Brexit persuasions - a strong Leaver - which whom he might find a political accommodation.
Politics has been known to make strange bedfellows…and possibly to make bedfellows behave strangely.
If there are two things that the EU elections have thrown up in the mix, they are the surge to the right in European and British politics, and it’s the current precarious state of politics in Britain.
The future seems even more uncertain.
Other than Gibraltar, the other OTs will be affected but can only look on as non-voting observers.
24 Sep, 2019
25 Feb, 2020
28 Jun, 2019
18 Nov, 2019
We appreciate your feedback. You can comment here with your pseudonym or real name. You can leave a comment with or without entering an email address. All comments will be reviewed before they are published.