Three years after the British people voted decisively to take back their independence, they have a chance to speak again. The new Brexit Party will ask the electorate not only to support a clean break from the European Union, but also to begin a political revolution in the UK.
No Brexiteer – least of all me – wanted to contest the European elections on 23 May. But from disaster springs opportunity. Next month’s enforced ballot will allow us to bring about a far wider change in our broken political system.
I attended the European Summit this week. Frankly, it was an embarrassment. European leaders dined in fine style while deciding Britain’s future. That it has come to this is nothing short of a national humiliation. That bullying triumvirate of unelected EU bureaucrats Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier know this only too well.
I feel differently. We are a great nation and a great people. But we are being held back by weak leadership. The time to change this is now.
Several months ago, I sensed that we would have to fight the European elections. That is why I set up the Brexit Party. Starting from scratch in the last few weeks, we have assembled a team of candidates and organisers who all believe that Britain deserves better.
This morning/on Friday morning, we will launch our campaign at a factory in Coventry. Our ambitions are high. We see the next few weeks as the beginning of a fightback against an establishment that has wilfully betrayed our trust.
But this is not a time to be angry or despondent. For something far more significant is going on. I now believe that the Brexit vote was just the start of a bigger move to radically change and update our entire structure of government. Indeed, the word ‘Brexit’ is no longer just about leaving the European Union. It symbolises a wider battle between the people and the politicians. Our two-party system is shattered. It must be put out of its misery. The electorate has the power to effect this desperately needed change if it acts now.
The early signs of political support are encouraging. Former Tory MP and lifelong Conservative member Michael Brown has become a registered supporter of the Brexit Party. I was also amazed to hear the former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe declare that, having campaigned for the Conservatives at every election since 1970, she would vote for us in the European elections if we have the right candidates. And I hear stories from the House of Lords of Crossbench and Conservative peers saying they, too, will vote for the Brexit Party next month.
In the last two weeks, more than 1,000 men and women of high calibre have applied to be on our European candidates’ list. We will field people who have been successful in business, in the armed forces, in academia as well as those from all walks of life. It is clear they are motivated not merely by the Brexit betrayal, but by a belief that career politicians are too incompetent to run this country. It is time for those who have never done a deal in their life to be replaced.
Even before we launch formally, the public’s response to the Brexit Party has been remarkable. Through our website, we have raised more than £750,000 in small donations over the last 10 days. In 25 years of campaigning, I have never seen such a reaction. I hope and believe it will continue. Political operations need money, and we will need to raise a lot as we move from the EU elections to the next general election and beyond.
Our campaign for 23 May has begun. This is the most ambitious project I have ever launched in my life. If, as I believe, the people want to change politics for good, I am going to give them the opportunity to make that happen.