Friday, 11 January 2019

Nigel Farage speaks in Prague

By Raymond Johnston | Prague Daily Monitor |
25 September 2017

British right-wing politician Nigel Farage was in Prague on Sept. 21 to speak at Národní Dům na Vinohradech in support of Petr Mach and the Svobodných Občanů (Free Citizens) party.

Mach in August resigned from the European Parliament so he could concentrate on the upcoming Czech parliamentary elections taking place in October. The Svobodných Občanů party currently is not in Parliament but has gained some local offices.

Farage, a former leader of the UK Independence Party, was a driving force behind the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom. Like UKIP, the Svobodných Občanů party is also Eurosceptical and libertarian, and opposed to the euro single currency. Farage called the Svobodných Občanů party a brother party to UKIP.

A handful of protestors turned up outside the venue with signs opposing Brexit, but there were no conflicts between them and supporters who came to hear Farage. According to comments Farage made after his talk, the crowd was some 500 people.

Farage said he left politics because he accomplished his goals but was ready to jump back into politics if the Brexit talks start to falter. He praised Mach, who he came to support, because Mach is not a career politician, and said that the EU is filled with politicians who are out of touch with real people.

He spoke against the general concept of having a European Union. “My view very strongly is that not just the United Kingdom should leave the European Union but that Europe should leave the European Union. I don’t think the project is working,” he said.

He claims to believe that instead “a genuine Europe of sovereign independent national states” can cooperate closely together.

He also urged Czechs to have their politicians push for a fair trade deal between Britain and the EU.
“We see Brexit as an opportunity to open ourselves up to other parts of the world. It would seem obvious to us, with a country like yours for example, where we are your fourth or fifth biggest market in the world. You sell us more than we sell you. It’s in the interest of Czech companies and Czech workers that a good deal is done,” he said, adding that EU politicians are not pushing for what is best for citizens of EU countries.

He repeated his criticism of the slowness of the Brexit negotiations in an interview for Czech TV, accusing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker of obstruction because it was in the EU's best interest, but not in the interest of countries like the Czech Republic, which would benefit from a better trade deal.

He was also critical of the free movement of people within the EU and of letting Bulgaria and Romania join the bloc because they had not completed the transition to Western democracy. Farage also criticized the EU's immigration policies and blamed them for the rise of Islamic extremism. He praised the Czech Republic for opposing mandatory quotas for accepting refugees.

According to Farage, the success of UKIP and its Brexit message was due to the use of new media possibilities, and having both vision and a simple message. “It is completely about grasping the opportunity that new media offers. I mean … UKIP would never have got off the ground, we would never have had a referendum if it was not for the way that we were able to use the Internet,” he said, adding that current US President Donald Trump also benefited from new media to rally support.

Farage also said that efforts by the mainstream media to publish unflattering photos of him actually helped to boost his popularity with the common voter.

Aside from speaking at Národní Dům na Vinohradech, Farage broadcast a radio show while in Prague. In it, he continued to attack EC President Juncker and Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator.
Farage said the Czech Republic wants a “grown up free trade deal” with the UK.

“Who do Barnier and Juncker represent? I think they’ve stopped representing the countries that are part of the EU. They’ve stopped representing the citizens. They’ve stopped representing EU companies. They are representing a fantastic way of life with a 16 percent top tax rate, great lunches – I’m not against that necessarily – and the best pension scheme in the world,” he said.

He also addressed the claim that no babies born in the England and Wales were named Nigel last year. Farage claimed the name had been in decline before he was well-known and before Brexit. “It really isn't all my fault, But that doesn't stop the pro-EU open Britain saying that I caused a backlash and that is why no one is being called Nigel,” he said.