World Politics After Brexit: A Conversation with Nigel Farage

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Nigel Farage has been campaigning for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union since 1999, when he founded the UK Independence Party, which got more votes in the 2014 European elections than either the Labour or Conservative Parties.  Farage then played a leading role as advocate for the “leave” side in the 2016 UK referendum on EU membership.  He followed up by organizing a new Brexit Party to keep up pressure for full withdrawal in subsequent UK elections.  Farage has been a frequent commentator on FOX NEWS and hosts his own program on British radio station LBC. In this Teleforum, Mr. Farage will address current developments in Britain and the EU but also talk about nationalist and populist trends in the U.S. and other countries.  

Featuring:

Nigel Farage, Former Member of the European Parliament, South East England Constituency

Moderator: Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

 

This call is open to the public - please dial 888-752-3232 to access the call.

Event Transcript

[Music]

 

Dean Reuter:  Welcome to Teleforum, a podcast of The Federalist Society's Practice Groups. I’m Dean Reuter, Vice President, General Counsel, and Director of Practice Groups at The Federalist Society. For exclusive access to live recordings of Practice Group Teleforum calls, become a Federalist Society member today at fedsoc.org.

 

 

Dean Reuter:  Welcome to The Federalist Society's Practice Group Teleforum conference call as today, June 15, 2020, we discuss "World Politics After Brexit: A Conversation with Nigel Farage." I'm Dean Reuter, Vice President, General Counsel, and Director of Practice Groups at The Federalist Society.

 

      As always, please note that all expressions of opinion are those of the experts on today's call. Also, this call is being recorded for use as a podcast in the future and will likely be transcribed.

 

      We're very pleased to welcome a returning guest and a new guest to Teleforum today. I'm going to introduce our Moderator who will take it from there. He is Professor Jeremy A. Rabkin, Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University here in the Washington, D.C. area. He's going to lead our guest through some questions and answers, but as always, we'll be looking to the audience for questions so please have those ready for when we get to that portion of the program.

 

With that, Professor Rabkin, the floor is yours.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Thank you very much, Dean.

 

      So I think Nigel Farage is one of those Teleforum guests that really does not need an introduction. If you want a lot more details, he's got a pretty detailed biography in his Wikipedia article.

 

But let me just highlight that he was a Commodities Trader on the London Metals Exchange for much of the Thatcher Era in the 1980s and into the early '90s. And then he was one of the Founders of the United Kingdom Independence Party starting in 1993 that was campaigning for the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

 

      So he played an active role in the referendum in 2016. And afterwards, when it became really a question whether the Conservative Party was able or interested in implementing it, he formed a new party, the Brexit Party, to advocate for serious efforts on the part of the British government to disentangle itself from the EU.

 

      He was elected a member of the European Parliament starting in, I think, 1993 or 4 and continued to represent Southeast England in Brussels until the withdrawal of all EU -- sorry, British participation in the EU Parliament after the 2016 referendum.

 

      So the plan this afternoon is just to get some opinions out from Nigel Farage, and I hope that will last not more than half an hour. And then we'll see what other questions people want to raise.

 

      So I want to start with this. How are you feeling now about the prospects for actually having a British withdrawal that cuts all EU claims on British policy?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, good afternoon, everybody. Yeah, it's hard to believe. It was exactly four years ago that I was on the River Thames with a flotilla of British fishing boats, a week before the referendum campaigning for us to get back our sovereign waters, amongst many other things.

 

      So it's four years, almost exactly four years, since we voted to leave. And in much of that time, we have seen hesitation, vacillation, reluctance, many, many attempts by the Globalist Establishment to get us to vote again. But mostly, in the end, we overcame those things. And on the 31st of January this year, at the stroke of 11 o'clock, we left, politically, we left the European Union.

 

      But legally, we then entered into a transition phase. And whilst we left the club and we had no more members of the European Parliament, no more European commissioners in Brussels, we were to be, and we still are right now, subject to all the rules of the European Union. So we're still accepting their rules. We're still paying them money. You could say, I guess, that we have at the moment taxation without representation.

 

      But this transition period is due to end on the 31st of December this year. But there are provisions in place for that transition to last up to a further two years. And the news hot off the blocks today is it has been agreed and announced in Brussels today, there will be no extension to that transition.

 

      So today, actually, in terms of the legal tidying up, today is a very timely day for this call. So the European Commission accept, the British government insist that we will not be extending this period beyond the 31st of December.

 

      Now, that means we've got six months to see whether we can come to some form of free trade agreement with the European Union that is acceptable. If we can't, then we will leave and trade with them on WTA terms.

 

      For me, the absolute key is that we are not subject at all to the judgments of the European Code of Justice, that we have --

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Yeah. I wanted to just slow you down to focus on that because I think that's probably of very great interest to our callers, our listeners.

 

      So my understanding is this has been floated as a compromise. Are you confident that the Johnson government would absolutely hold the line against that?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, that really is the $54,000 question, isn't it? I mean, look, Boris Johnson wouldn't even be leader of the Conservative Party if I hadn't launched the Brexit Party in 2019, won the European elections, humiliated the Conservatives, and he kept that up through the general election of 2019. If Boris does not deliver what we call a clean break Brexit, namely that we are no longer subject to the higher authority of European courts and many other rules, then Johnson would have failed in the one policy that won him this big 80-seat majority in the House of Commons.

 

      So I, at the moment -- and I've got some quite deep reservations about many other things that Boris is doing on China, etc., but I think there are still good grounds for optimism to think that they will deliver this and deliver it properly. And because they know that if they don't do it, I'll be back and give them a very, very hard time. So I do think that Brexit is heading in the right direction.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Would you like --

 

Nigel Farage:  And today is going to --

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Sorry. Would you like to say a word about the status of Northern Ireland when the dust settles?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, here's the difficulty. The difficulty is we passed an act of Parliament under the Withdrawal Agreement that effectively cut Northern Ireland off legally from much of the rest of the UK. And Boris has been less than honest with Northern Ireland about this in terms of whether there'll be border checks in the Irish Sea between the mainland and Northern Ireland.

 

      It is difficult because this act of Parliament was passed. This Withdrawal Agreement was passed. But now the British government forming a general election, turning their back in some ways on elements of that agreement.

 

      I guess the answer is you can sign international treaties, yes. You can come to international agreements, but democratic elections in some ways overrule things that have been previously agreed. So we will see where Boris finishes up.

 

      All I can tell you is that on that night of the 31st of January this year, I led upwards of a 100,000 people partying and celebrating and champagne caught flying in Parliament Square in London. There wasn't much celebration in Northern Ireland because they are fearful that they will effectively be a lesser part of the United Kingdom and still subject to the EU rules.

 

      So it's a very valid question to ask.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Yes. So let's go across the town hall and ask about the EU. Assuming that Britain does end up really, completely free of EU controls, do you think that that experience of Britain disentangling itself would inspire other countries to try to do their own exit or renegotiate their status? Or do you think that looking back on how hard it was for Britain, they're likely to be intimidated and think oh no, we can't possibly --

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, one of the reasons -- yeah, I mean, one of the reasons it was made so hard for Britain --

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Yes.

 

Nigel Farage:  -- was, as the French would say, pour encourager les autres, to show everybody that it's a difficult thing to do. Look, I am in no doubt -- I've never been in any doubt that ultimately, countries as diverse and different as Italy and Greece cannot survive together inside the same economic union, the same military union, and the same political union. So Brexit is a massive, massive event.

 

And so interesting to see Germany's contribution to the EU budget is now due to increase by 42 percent per annum. So what you've got with the UK not being there is the northern European countries and their tax payers being expected to put more and more money into this, firstly, because we're not there and secondly, because the south of Europe continually needs bailing out because the single currency, the euro, just does not work for areas as different as the North and the South of Europe.

 

So I think the whole construct of basically the attempt to build a united states of Europe amongst diverse, differing cultures and peoples, I think it was always doomed to fail. And Brexit to me is the first brick out of the wall.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  So as a former commodities dealer, would you like to put a horizon on this? The odds are greater than 50 percent that it will collapse by 2040, what's your --

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, I think the world we live in shows that things move a lot more quickly than perhaps they did historically. And I would be very, very surprised -- very, very surprised if we did not see within the next decade further break up and decentration of the Union.

 

      It does not have popular consent. It does not have a demos. There is no such thing as a European -- you have American people, and they can be in California, they can be in Texas, they can be in Alabama. But they are American, and there are things they share culturally together that make you the great nation state that you are. But --

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  I just want to say as an American citizen, it's really heartening to hear you say this at a time when we are preoccupied with screaming at each other.

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, yes, I mean, look, there is a -- and I'm sure we'll come onto this, but there is an attempt going on by Marxists forces that seek to completely break down our nation states, destroy our cultures, and it's something that we've got to stand up firm and fight against.

 

But ultimately, for every activist that you see on the street demonstrating or complaining, the truth of it is, we have a phenomenon here called Middle England, and you have the flyover states of America. And actually, the vast majority of people in the USA believe in the USA. The vast majority of the people in the United Kingdom believe in the UK. And it's the same in France. And it's the same in Germany. And it's the same in Greece. And it's the same in Spain.

 

And this attempt to say to people that your first identity is European, and your second identity is French, it just does not work. Nation states have evolved. They've evolved over centuries. They've had their ups. They've had their downs. But the truth is these things of evolutions, the European Union is a globalist artificial construction, and it does not fit human nature. It does not fit geography. And it does not work in my view.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Would you like to offer just a quick list of countries that you think are most likely to be on the exit path over the next decade?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, Denmark is very similar to the United Kingdom in many, many ways. We share an awful lot culturally with Denmark. They're not in the euro, and so that makes -- not being in the single currency makes disentangling much easier. So they're a fairly obvious candidate.

 

      The other one that I think is fascinating is Italy. Think about this. There has been no economic growth in Italy now for 20 years. They have joined a deutschmark dominated euro, a German dominated euro. They've had a currency that is much too high for them, way too high for them for much of that time. And that has led to mass de-industrialization in the North of Italy on a scale that is even way beyond what you've seen in many parts of the Midwest of America.

 

      There are no benefits to --

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  How about Greece?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, Greece, I mean, Greece has almost been destroyed by this, but --

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Yes.

 

Nigel Farage:  -- at the moment, the people seemed to have lost the will to live. So firstly, you've got the North/South split, right? You've got the northern countries, some of whom have benefited from the currency, Germany particularly. The southern countries who've been damaged by the euro. But then you've got a cultural split. So a North/South economic split, all right? That's the first thing to understand about the way things are.

 

      But the West/East cultural split is also fascinating. And I'm talking here about Hungary, about Poland, about Slovakia, about the Czech Republic. These are countries that are still firmly, fiercely Christian countries in terms of ethos and behavior. They are countries that are opposed to large scale migration into their countries because they worry that it will fundamentally alter the shape of their nation, the culture of their nation.

 

      And you compare that to the west of Europe. Look at where they think free movement of people is an absolute right, that national borders simply shouldn't exist, where on issues, whether it's transgenderism or whatever other liberal issue you can talk about, the western countries are all in favor of laws changing and people being able to denominate as they wish. Whereas in Poland and in Hungary in the east, they say no, that's not the case.

 

      So you've got this big East/West split as well, and repeatedly, the European Union and their court pass judgments against the Polish government and what they've done on the grounds that they are discriminatory. And there are now growing voices in Poland and elsewhere who say look, we lived under the Soviets for nearly 50 years, telling us what to do. We're not going to live under a regime where Brussels tells us what to do.

 

      So North/South tensions, East/West tensions, and as I say, very few people in Europe who identify as being European. They're European by geography, but they don't feel European by identity.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  So before we get to populism out in the wider world, I want to just ask you a few questions about something that you mentioned in passing which is immigration and migration within the EU. Some countries have suspended their commitments under the Schengen Accords and actually now revived border controls. Do you think just looking ahead over the next few years we're going to see more of that? Or do you think Brussels is going to insist no, come on now, you can't do that?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, super nationalism and these concepts of, as I say, European identities and flags, that may be okay when life's going well, but in a crisis and when there's death, death is national, not super national. And that's very much what we've seen doing this COVID-19 crisis, as you rightly say. Borders being reinstated all over Europe, people putting borders back.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Do you think that that is just a response to emergency which will go away? Or do you think that's going to be the new reality over the next decade?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, I think people's response to the emergency shows you where their true instincts lay. And the truth of it is that we want to have nation states. We want to have identity. We want to have symbols. And that, I guess, is what we call nationalism, as opposed to globalism, which wants us to give away sovereignty at a national level and have decisions made by organizations like the EU, the UN, the World Health Organization, or whoever else it may be.

 

      And I think the truth of it is that what you've seen in this crisis is where the hearts of the people really lie. And that says to the longer term that these super national projects won't work. And so nationalism, populism, whatever phrase you want to use -- and I do rather object to the use of the word populism because it's been dreamt up as a derogatory term.

 

      But the fact that you want to have democracy within the nation state as opposed to bureaucracy imposed at a global level, doesn’t mean that you hate your neighbors, doesn't mean that you're insular, doesn't mean that you don't want to cooperate with people, trade with people, have reciprocity with people. It just means that you want to be governed as a unit within a group of people with a shared identity.

 

And I think the truth of it is that through all of these ups and downs, populism is still winning.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Well, let me give you a chance to talk a little bit about the United States. A lot of people might think and have said it's strange that President Trump and before that candidate, Trump keeps talking about sovereignty because actually, American sovereignty wasn't really very much threatened. We're not in the EU. We're not actually in any organization that can really force the United States to do things against its will. So why do you think that that had so much political response? So many people said yes.

 

Nigel Farage:  Because if Hillary Clinton had won, things would have been very different. If you sign up to Kyoto, if you sign up to the Paris Climate Accord, you are effectively allowing or binding the electorate and saying that future elections cannot change your policy course.

 

And it's also fair to say Hillary did say to a Wall Street audience that she wanted America to join a hemispheric common market. And what she meant was she wanted the European single market to effectively include America. And that would have taken sovereignty away. So I do think that there was a lot more about that sovereignty point that got into the hearts of people that voted for Donald Trump than perhaps many at the time understood.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Are you surprised that the NAFTA reforms, which were fairly modest, seemed to have put that issue to rest? And people are not now saying no, we need really bigger changes than NAFTA and actually we need to withdraw from NAFTA. That doesn't seem to be on anyone's agenda.

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, part of Trump's style, of course, part of the Trump style is to aim high in changing relationships and changing negotiations and achieving a victory, and then moving on. I mean, look, NAFTA, even the most negative aspects of NAFTA never compared to a loss of sovereignty that we've had or that we did have within the European Union.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Right. It was nothing like that.

 

Nigel Farage:  No.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Right. Okay. So let's go next door. Why is Justin Trudeau still the Prime Minister in Canada? 

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, yup. All trends have their counters. I guess one of the things that the populace causes have had isn't just the argument for nation state democracy against global bureaucracy. But it had some charismatic personalities. And I think there's no doubt, love him or hate him, that Trudeau somehow does have an appealing charismatic personality. I still am somewhat mystified by his level of support.

 

      But I guess this is a young, good-looking guy who speaks well and who seems to reach out. But Canada, actually, opposite -- Canada is actually very counter-cyclical because don't forget that Canada had their conservative revolution in the late '80s and early '90s against what was going on. So Canada kind of acts out of sync with the rest of us.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  How about Australia, other parts of the world?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, I think Scott Morrison is doing incredibly well. I must say, he, perhaps, is not the most charismatic of leaders, but I think the way the Australians, given that so much of their economic activity has become reliant on China over the course of the last few years, I think the courage and bravery with which Scott Morrison has stood up and said there have to be a genuine inquiry into the roots of coronavirus, into the extent to which the Chinese government covered it up.

 

I think the determination of the Australians, despite massive commercial pressure, to make sure that firms like Huawei are not part of their communications systems, no, I think Australia actually, Scott Morrison in particular, I think is doing very well indeed.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Are you worried about what a revival of nationalism would mean in Japan?  

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, yeah. I don't think we're going back to the deification of the emperor. I mean, clearly, this is the problem, isn't it?

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  But things couldn't rattle their neighbors without leading to an actual military conflict, right?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, and there are of course a lot of disputes going on in the South China Seas with many disputed islands, and I know this is something that the U.S. Navy are looking at and scratching their heads about every single day.

 

      Look, I mean, Japan, I don't think there's any prospect of Japan becoming what it was in 1945 any more than I think there's a prospect of Germany going back to what it was in 1945. I don't see the ingredients for national socialism, which was very much the case in Germany, and deification, which was the case in Japan. I'm not fearful of those prospects, no.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  I wanted to ask you one more question, and then we can turn to the callers who may have questions.

 

Nigel Farage:  Sure.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Some people have said the shooter for Britain is to have closer trading relations within the anglosphere. And I want to ask you first whether that is appealing to you, and second, how broadly you would, or narrowly, you would want to describe this thing, the anglosphere?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, the anglosphere is a remarkable thing. I mean, Churchill, of course, whose statute has been vandalized twice in the last fortnight, which I can scarcely believe, but Churchill talked about the English-speaking peoples of the world. And that, of course, meant America and what we now know as the commonwealth --

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  How about India?

 

Nigel Farage:  Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, look, if you look at it, if you look at the commonwealth and at American arm, in numbers terms, we are talking about 2.6 billion people --

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Yes.

 

Nigel Farage:  -- live in those countries. Now, some of those countries aren't perfect, I know, but in general terms, these are countries that operate on common law principles, all right? These are countries that do have some degree of shared cultural inheritance, and I have felt strongly for a couple of decades that there's a lot more that all of us could do together given how much we share and how much we have in common.

 

      So though I am very positive about the anglosphere -- and one of the reasons I want to be absolutely free of all EU rules from the 1st of January is that we can begin to re-forge and reform relationships with other parts of the world that we were not allowed to do, literally banned from doing as EU members. And I think the relationship with the USA is absolutely at the top of that list. It's certainly at the top of that list if Donald Trump is still president. If we get somebody else like Joe Biden, it may be different.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  I just offer you this comment, which is it would be a very interesting debate within the United States whether we could embrace the anglosphere as nations of the world that are close to us or whether that would, today, be a very divisive proposition, which I don't know the answer to that.

 

Nigel Farage:  You may be right. But I, as I say, all these countries who all stood together against Nazism, against Japanese imperialism, and that may be 75 years ago, but I still think in many ways we're on the same side today.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Yes, could very well be.

 

Dean Reuter:  We've got a lot of people on the line, but so far only two questions. Let's check in with our first caller from, looks like right here in Washington D.C. 

 

Caller 1:  Well, yes. Thank you. I have a couple questions. Interesting, good talk. I appreciate it very much. One, do you think the Chinese Communist Party is concerned about Brexit, and if so, how? And how might their perspective on Brexit and the ultimate decline of the EU be affected by their anxieties over an anglosphere rising in its stead?

 

      And two, how did it get so damned hard to get out of the EU? We had to fight a Civil War because you couldn't leave the United States, but I know you didn't sign a contract saying you had to go to war to get out of the EU, but why was it so difficult? Did you sign that agreement up front? Was that part of the --

 

Nigel Farage:  Okay. Okay. Right, now first thing, the Chinese Communist Party. Look, clearly, the Chinese Communist Party will be absolutely horrified by the idea of an anglosphere working together. That would be run very, very contrary to their ambitions of power in the world.

 

      So Brexit should be a counter blow back against that, but, but, but, but, the Chinese Communist Party have been absolutely brilliant at buying off large chunks of the British establishment. And I'm talking about former senior civil servants.  I'm talking about former big businesses bosses. I'm talking about former politicians.

 

And it's actually been a British government conservative policy since 2010 to say that China should be our main focus. And we've let China into our nuclear power industry. We've let China into our steel industry. So in many ways, the battle that we won, the sovereignty battle that we won with Brussels, we now have another fight on our hands with our own establishment. And that is very, very much on those that have signed up to China for personal financial gain.

 

And the second question is a very similar answer. Why was it so hard to get out? Because almost the entirety of our bureaucratic class, our political class, and our media class found themselves ultimately beholden to the great benefactor, which was the European Union, which was very, very good at throwing money around like confetti at those that offered their support to it. It was literally a takeover.

 

When I first started standing up and saying we should be sovereign, independent, self-governing, and free, just to saying things like that, I was condemned, talked about in ways in public that now seem almost unbelievable. And it's the one thing we have to remember, I suppose, about the human condition is that many of them are very, very bribable.

 

Dean Reuter:  We've now got a half dozen questions pending, so let's check in with our next caller.

 

Caller 2:  Hello, your honor, Mr. Farage. Thank you so much for coming to talk with us. I have a quick question for you about your thoughts on Ireland. I would love to know what you think about the possibility of getting Ireland into a future free trade agreement with the United Kingdom and the United States and the possibility of them leaving the European Union eventually.

 

      And also, what sort of free trade agreement do you think the United States and the EU could eventually sign? Do you think it's more like a NAFTA-style free trade agreement? Or do you think it'll be more like the free trade agreement the European Union signed with Canada in the last year? Thank you so much.

 

Nigel Farage:  No, thank you. One of Ireland, as ever, all questions about Ireland are complex. But let me tell you this, if the British establishment had fallen in love with the European Union, the Irish establishment in Dublin are in raptures over it.

 

      A lot of people in Ireland have done incredibly well out of European Union membership. By that, I mean a lot of people in Dublin have done incredibly well. So there's a huge pro-EU political consensus within the Republic of Ireland. And yet, twice in the last 20 years, on referendums on aspects of Irish membership of the club, they have voted no in referendums. I don't need to be told to vote again.

 

      Ultimately, Ireland has had an incredible, incredible economic modernization now compared back to the 1970s. Was that because of EU membership? No. I would say actually it was because of a very sensible, competitive corporate tax rate the Irish put in place, amongst other things.

 

      So at the moment, there is not a big Euro-skeptic movement within the Republic of Ireland, but I do believe it's only a matter of time. Their problem, of course, is that they are in the euro. Now, they receive no benefit whatsoever from being in the currency, absolutely none. But that does make disentanglement a little bit more difficult.

 

      So genuine Irish independence, which they fought so hard to get from the rest of the British, they've now given to Brussels. And I think it'll be a few years yet.

 

      In terms of free trade agreements, well, look, the European Union has signed free trade agreements, as you say, with Canada, with Japan, which do resemble genuine free trade agreements. But their instinct with the United Kingdom is not to do that. And I suspect with the United States it would not to be as well.

 

      They generally, the EU, sees most trade deals that it does, it seems as a means of homogenization and harmonization. And that instinct for them is never too far from the surface.

 

Dean Reuter:  Carrying on with our questions. Go right ahead, caller.

 

Caller 3:  Thanks for joining us. I've been a huge fan of yours for many years. My question is about potential North Irish or Scottish independence. What do you think the odds of that are? And how damaging do you think that would be if that happened?

 

Nigel Farage:  I don't think Scottish independence will happen at all. And by the way, it's a complete misuse of the word. Though Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of Scottish National Party, says she wants independence, what she means by that is she wants to separate from the rest of the United Kingdom and rejoin the European Union.

 

And, of course, you can't be independent if your laws are being made somewhere else and if the highest legal authority is a foreign court. So it's a complete falsehood for them to use the word independence. No, look, I really honestly and truly do not think there are any prospects now of Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom.

 

Northern Ireland is a lot more -- rather like my previous question about Ireland. Northern Ireland is more complicated. There is quite a big demographic change going on within Northern Ireland. The Catholic population is increasing much more rapidly than the Protestant population.

 

But even so, and despite the difficulty of Brexit and the difficult position they're in, even so, the last opinion poll in Northern Ireland where people were asked would you like to leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic of Ireland, fewer than 30 percent of the people said yes, they will.

 

So honestly, I don't think in either case we're going to see a breakup of the United Kingdom. And certainly, if we can make a proper success at Brexit over the course of the next two or three years, and if the European Union continues to head in the rather sick direction that it is, no, I'm relatively sanguine about both of those prospects.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  And Gibraltar, are you going to defend that?

 

Nigel Farage:  Oh. Well, look, it's funny is that I'm in Gibraltar. It is this oddity that goes back to the Treaty of Utrecht. The last referendum in Gibraltar, it was over 99 percent of people voted to stay British. So I don't think anything's going to change there very quickly.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Ah, but you could hand it over just to -- as a sort of bargaining chip with the EU, right, as you --

 

Nigel Farage:  That could never happen.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Oh, very good.

 

 Nigel Farage:  That could never, ever happen. Any government that did that would have -- public popular support would collapse. I mean, goodness me. It might be 35 years ago, but we sent a task force 8,000 miles away to the Falkland Islands when someone threatened their sovereignty. And no, a British government cannot and will not be allowed to betray Gibraltar. It just cannot happen.

 

Dean Reuter:  So let's check in with our next caller.

 

Caller 4:  I had wanted to ask a question about Ireland, but I think you answered both of those. So I will ask a question about how you think this affects NATO?

 

Nigel Farage:  I'm very, very worried about it. I mean, NATO, it may have its faults, but NATO has been there as you well know since the late 1940s, and I think it's been a very successful organization. There is a direct threat to NATO, and it's not Donald Trump, as the press will tell you.

 

      The direct threat to NATO is the European Union because they want to have their own European army, European navy, European air force alongside their own expansionists, and it's important to emphasize that foreign policy. And what you find are seeing your European politicians saying oh no, you don't need to spend two percent on defense. You can spend one percent on defense because we have economies of scale at a European level.

 

And that, of course, runs directly counter to the fundamental rule of NATO, which means whether you're a giant country like America or a tittle of a country doesn't matter. You all pay the same percentage of GDP into defense, and that is part of the membership fee of the club and working together.

 

So the EU -- and they'll never say this publicly, but there is a bizarre deep resentment of America in parts of the EU. Certainly, in France you see this. It's almost as if the French will never forgive America for saving them in 1944 and '45. I don't quite get the psychology of it. But no, I am fearful for the future of NATO because Trump is quite right to call out this fraud. Of the 28 members, only 6 at the moment are paying the two percent membership fee. So I am worried about the future of NATO.

 

      I gave a speech last year in Prague, and I said to them, I said, "Look," I said, "Who would you rather helped you in the future if Russia was to become aggressive again? Would you want NATO spearheaded by the Americans, supported by the British? Or would you want the European Commissioners in Brussels after a long lunch?" And, of course, you know, the answer was pretty clear.

 

      And I do hope that one of the things that Brexit Britain can do, fully freed from the European Union, is to act as an honest broker between America and between the European Union. And we are the ones that need to go and say to them listen guys, this fellow Trump is serious. If you don’t pay the money, they're not going to be there.

 

      So I really think -- I understand the anger and frustration of the President, and I think Britain now has a big role in trying to save NATO. Otherwise, it'll be gone.

 

Dean Reuter:  Let's move onto our next caller, heading back to area code 703, Northern Virginia. Go right ahead, caller.

 

Nelson Lund:  This is Nelson Lund from Scalia Law School. I'm wondering, suppose hypothetically that there's some serious economic decline in Great Britain, perhaps relative to the EU that could be plausibly or even colorably blamed on Brexit. What do you think the political consequences would be?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, it's a -- I have to say, that question is something that has worried me, particularly the way the Johnson government is handling the coronavirus crisis. It sort of feels at the moment that the UK is going to come out of this worse than many of the other European countries. It is a concern.

 

      Any relative economic downturn in the UK compared to the eurozone, yes, you are absolutely right. It will get directly pinned on Brexit, and there'll be demands for a second referendum and demands to rejoin.

 

      However, the one thing I've learned in politics over all these long years is that the status quo is a very powerful thing. When I wanted us to leave and we were members, one of the reasons that it refers back to merely a question, but one of the reasons it was so hard to do is that overturning status quos is. And the same applies in reverse.

 

      Now that we've left, even if economically, we're doing worse than the rest of the EU, if in a referendum we say to the British people, do you want once again to have unlimited free movement on your borders? Do you want once again for our supreme court to surrender to the European Court of Justice? And I could go on with a long list, so yeah. Yes, I'm concerned about it, but I think once we've left, I just don't see us ever going back.

 

Dean Reuter:  Sounds right. Our next caller, go ahead, caller.

 

John Gizzi:  Hi. This is John Gizzi from Newsmax, pleasure to listen to Mr. Farage and the other questions. My questions are twofold about leadership. A few years ago, you said that Angela Merkel was one of the weakest members of the political class in Germany. And many of us thought Mr. Murch or someone very different from her would take the CDU in a different direction. Now, it looks like she'll stay.

 

      Similarly, people called Matteo Salvini the Nigel Farage of Italy and predicted he would come to power with his League. That does not look likely, and again, it's semper eadem, always the same in Italian politics. Do you see either of those countries making a dramatic change in the next few years?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, John, on Angela Merkel, the one thing that was for certain was that when the great economic collapse of 2008 occurred, it was the moment that Germany became undoubtedly the most powerful member of the European Union. And that is because she was elected, she had legitimacy, and she was up against people like Mr. Barroso, the former Maoist, if you would believe it, who was running the European Commission, who, of course, did not have any public rote.

 

      So Merkel, in a sense, became the top dog in Europe at that moment in time. And she came through the crisis as somebody who was calm and cool, in control. And she got this nickname Mutti, mother, mother of the nation, because she done well in a crisis.

 

      I thought she blown it, John, some years later with this ridiculous call in 2015 to say well, as many of you as want to come across the Mediterranean and settle here can. It led to all sorts of social consequences in Germany. And yes, I thought her political career was over.

 

      However, what has happened is we faced another crisis, haven't we? Another even bigger crisis than 2008, namely coronavirus. And I have to say, the efficiency with which Germany rapidly put into place testing, tracing, isolating, stopping the spread of infection, and they finished up with a death rate that is only 25 percent of the death rate in the United Kingdom, despite the fact they have a much bigger population.

 

      So I think the moral of the story here is that in normal times, Mrs. Merkel may not look like a very good leader, but in crisis, she looks really quite astonishing. And I'm also going to say something else that'll surprise you. I am not in any way a supporter of Emmanuel Macron. He is another uber globalist, and yet, he's done two things in the last six weeks that have impressed me massively.

 

The first is he addressed the French nation and said, televised, provincial address, and he said, "I want to level with you, the French people. We underestimated this crisis at the beginning. We have made mistakes. For that, we're sorry, but we are absolutely doing our level best to get on top of this virus." And I thought wow. To actually see some honesty and contrition from a national leader, I respected that.

 

      And then yesterday, given that we've had statues torn down, we've had the police standing, watching Churchill's statue being vandalized and doing nothing. We've now got demands for Nelson's Column to go. It's unbelievable what the Marxists want. And Macron said, "We will not remove a single trace of French history. No statues in France will be removed."

 

      So once again, I may disagree with him on big politics, but in terms of leadership, he has come through this remarkably. Boris, sadly -- and I did add the caveat in earlier that he had been close to death, but Boris comes out of this looking like somebody that spends most of his time in hiding rather than leading.

 

      Now, on Salvini on Italy, look, the swings and roundabouts of Italian politics are of such a pace and speed that it is difficult to catch up with, but bear this in mind. Whatever Mr. Salvini's short term ups and downs may be, he has already taken the League from nowhere. When he became leader of the League, they were on three percent in the national polls. And he's taken them from there into coalition government.

 

They may now be out of government, but I promise you this, whether it's Matteo, Salvini, or whether it's somebody else, it cannot be too long before the Italians say being trapped inside this economic and military union is literally destroying our economy, destroying our country.         

 

      So yup, sure, your question is right. Salvini may not be as powerful now as he was 12-18 months ago, but he's a damn sight more powerful than he was six, seven, eight years ago.

 

Dean Reuter:  We’ve got two questions pending and hopefully enough time to get both of them in.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Good. Good. Let's try and get them both. Go.

 

Dean Reuter:  Go ahead, caller.

 

Caller 7:  Hi. So, obviously, an important goal of Brexit was to eliminate the control by European law and European court. So, for example, it was the Court of Justice of the European Union that created the so-called right to be forgotten and therefore, Britain would no longer be bound by that.

 

      But there's another institution, the Council of Europe, which has its own supreme court, the European Court of Human Rights, and that was the court that overturned the British punishment of what they call whole life in prison or we call life without parole in the Bitner case. So if Britain's still part of the Council of Europe but not the European Union, how much would it still be subject to some pan-European constitutional law? How do those "supreme courts" exercise what seems like overlapping authority?

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, look, let's just get the history of this right. The Council of Europe, of course, came before the European Union. The Council of Europe was a late 1940's construct put together so that Europe had a club, a forum, whereby people could sit down together.

 

And they, of course, put into place the European Court of Human Rights and the reason that the European Court of Human Rights. And whilst it's separate to the European Union, it is adjacent, literally adjacent, to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. So it's pretty close in every sense.

 

The point of the ECHR was to act as an early warning system to stop the kind of human rights abuses that were going on in Germany in the 1930s from happening without being flagged on a big stage, all right? So Council of Europe, designed to be cooperative. Court setup, designed to be an early warning system.

 

After that, the Treaty of Rome came much later in 1957. It started as an EEC. It evolved into an EC. It then became an EU in the early 1990s. And, yes, the European Court of Justice is there to oversee their rulebook on mostly financial matters, mostly what they call single market matters.

 

So basically, most commercial law is now decided there, not at the nation state. Now, clearly, we are leaving the auspices of the European Court of Justice. And that leaves a big question mark as to where we are with the ECHR.

 

I would say this. I would say that despite the good early intentions of the ECHR, because of judicial activism, because of a need to seem to be busy, they have moved into all sorts of areas. And you mentioned one of them. I'd add to that insisting that prisoners, for example, serving sentences have the right to vote. That is ECHR jurisdiction. That is at the moment unfinished business in British politics, okay? It's unfinished business.

 

I take your point. It's a perfectly valid one. They can make judgments that can contradict national law. And I think the logic of Brexit is whilst we would wish to stay friendly in every way with the other members of the EU through the Council of Europe, I think the logic of it says in time, there will be a debate that says we can't accept ECHR rulings either.

 

Dean Reuter:  We still have two questions pending. We might get to both of them, but let's check in with the next caller now.

 

Caller 8:  Hi, Nigel, big fan. I just had a more professional and personal advice question for you. You tell the truth as you see it. You've been called a racist, much worse for it. As a young attorney who has a wife and a young child, how do I balance even questioning the orthodoxy with potentially risking a lucrative career and the ability to take care of my family?

 

Nigel Farage:  Dear, oh, dear, oh, dear. Well, look, you're absolutely right. Believe you me, if you take on the establishment and they formed themselves around one opinion, if you take on that establishment, they don't exactly come out with a tray of chilled drinks for you. I can assure you.

 

      I -- look, for pursuing the mission that I did, I'm not looking for any sympathy here because I did it voluntarily. But if you go down that route, you almost necessarily have to make massive sacrifices in terms of career, in terms of income, and in terms of your family. If you get into the public domain and if you reach the sheer levels of abuse that I was subjected to on a daily basis back in 2014, '15, '16, '17, then I'm afraid the truth of it is it is not just you that pays for the price for doing this. It is your family as well.

 

So I would say to people -- I can't advise you. You must make your own mind up. You must decide what your priorities are. But to genuinely take on the established wisdom within your profession or within the broader context of national politics, it doesn't come for free. It comes with a hell of a price. And if you're going to go in that direction, you have to believe in it as I did with all your heart and soul.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Maybe you can squeeze in one last question, and he can say something a little more optimistic and life affirming.

 

Dean Reuter:  Very good. I'll ask the caller to be very succinct if we could.

 

Caller 9:  Thank you, Mr. Farage. To what extent was Brexit driven by EU versus non-EU migration? Particularly since my understanding is EU migration has dropped a lot, but non-EU migration has actually gone up. Thanks.

 

Nigel Farage:  Well, non-EU migration is the bit that we were in control of ourselves, although, arguably, not in control of very well. EU migration was not even a -- did you know, when I was first elected to the European Parliament back in the 1990s, EU migration wasn't even on my list of objectives when I was elected because members of the EU at that stage were all of roughly similar wealth levels. And you did not get massive crossflow migrations going on.

 

      It became a problem when eight, then ten former Communist countries joined the European Union, which led to just a massive immigration wave into the UK. So, yes, getting back control of our borders was a huge part of the Brexit referendum. But the fact you've got control of them back doesn’t guarantee you have the right immigration policy because that then is down to your government.

 

      But, no, clearly, sovereignty and self-control was what the referendum was about. But a huge, huge, subset of that was immigration. Absolutely.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  We’ve done very well. I think we are out of questions, and we're out of time. But I want to just give Mr. Farage a chance, if people want to contact you, where should they go?

 

Nigel Farage:  Yeah. Anyone's that got any sort of follow ups or wants to have a chat with me, my email address is easily accessible. It is info, I-N-F-O, @nfarage.co.uk. That's info@nfarage.co.uk. And also a big thank you to everybody, to The Federalist Society with whom I've interviewed and worked with before, and it's always been a pleasure. And thank you all of you for your questions. And as they say, we're living in very interesting times.

 

Prof. Jeremy A. Rabkin:  Thank you.

 

Nigel Farage:  Thank you.

 

Dean Reuter:  Let me thank Jeremy Rabkin and Nigel Farage personally and on behalf of The Federalist Society. Thanks to the audience for dialing in and for your questions. Check our website for future Teleforum calls, but until that next call, we are adjourned. Thank you very much, everyone.

 

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Dean Reuter:  Thank you for listening to this episode of Teleforum, a podcast of The Federalist Society’s practice groups. For more information about The Federalist Society, the practice groups, and to become a Federalist Society member, please visit our website at fedsoc.org.