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Nigel Paul Farage (born 3 April 1964) is a Britishmarker politician, and former leader of the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). He is also a member of the European Parliament for the South East. He co-chairs the European Parliament's Europe of Freedom and Democracy group.

On 4 September 2009, it was announced Farage would resign as leader of UKIP. This was to enable him to concentrate on his efforts to become an MP at Westminstermarker. If successful he will be obliged to give up being an MEP due to the dual mandate rule.

Early life and career

Farage was educated at Dulwich Collegemarker before joining a commodity brokerage firm in Londonmarker. He ran his own brokerage business from the early 1990s until 2002.

Active in the Conservative Party from his school days until the resignation of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1990, he left the party in 1992 when John Major's government signed the Treaty on European Union at Maastrichtmarker. He became a founding member of UKIP in 1993 and has contested UK parliamentary elections for UKIP five times. He was elected to the European Parliamentmarker in 1999 and re-elected in 2004 and 2009. Farage is currently leader of the thirteen-member UKIP contingent in the European Parliament, and co-leader of the multinational eurosceptic group, Europe of Freedom and Democracy. He also contested the Bromley & Chislehurstmarker constituency during the May 2006 by-election, organised after the Member of Parliament representing it, the eurosceptic Conservative Eric Forth, died. He scored third, winning 8% of the vote, thus beating the Labour Party candidate. This was the second-best by-election result recorded by UKIP out of 25 results.

Farage married first, in 1988, Grainne Hayes, with whom he had two children, Samuel (born 1989) and Thomas (born 1991). In 1999 he married the Germanmarker Kirsten Mehr, with whom he has a further two children, Victoria (born 2000) and Isabelle (born 2005).

Leader of UKIP

On 12 September 2006, Nigel Farage was elected leader of UKIP with 45% of the vote, 20% ahead of his nearest rival. He pledged to bring discipline to the party and to maximise UKIP's representation in local, parliamentary and other elections. In a PM programme interview on BBC Radio 4 that day he pledged to end the public perception of UKIP as a single-issue party and to work with allied politicians in the Better Off Out campaign, committing himself not to stand against the MPs who have signed up to that campaign (ten in all at this moment).

At his maiden speech to the UKIP conference on 8 October 2006, he told delegates that the party was "at the centre-ground of British public opinion" and the "real voice of opposition". Farage said: "We've got three social democratic parties in Britain — Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative are virtually indistinguishable from each other on nearly all the main issues" and "you can't put a cigarette paper between them and that is why there are nine million people who don't vote now in general elections that did back in 1992."

At 10pm on 19 October 2006, Farage took part in a three-hour live interview and phone-in with James Whale on national radio station talkSPORT. Four days later, Whale announced on his show his intention to stand as UKIP's candidate in the 2008 London Mayoral Election. Farage said that Whale "not only has guts, but an understanding of what real people think". However Whale later decided not to stand and UKIP was represented by Gerard Batten.

In September 2009 he announced that he would stand against John Bercow, the newly elected Speaker of the House of Commons, in his Buckingham constituencymarker in the Next United Kingdom general election, despite a convention that the speaker is outside of party politics, and not challenged for re-election.

In October 2009, he was ranked 41st (out of 100) in the Daily Telegraph Top 100 most influential right-wingers poll, citing his media savvy and his success with UKIP in the European Elections.

Expenses disclosure

Farage in 2009
In May 2009, The Guardian reported that Farage had said in a speech to the Foreign Press Association that over ten years as a member of the European Parliament he received and spent nearly £2 million of taxpayers' money in expenses and allowances, on top of his £64,000 a year salary.

The former Europe Minister, Denis MacShane, said that this showed that Farage was "happy to line his pockets with gold". Farage called this a "misrepresentation", pointing out that the money was for expenses, not salary, but he welcomed the focus on the issue of MEP expenses, claiming that "[o]ver a five year term each and every one of Britain's 78 MEPs gets about £1 million. It is used to employ administrative staff, run their offices and to travel back and forth between their home, Brussels and Strasbourg."

Controversies and whistleblowing

Jacques Barrot

On 18 November 2004, he announced in the European Parliament that Jacques Barrot, the French Commissioner designate, had been barred from elected office in France for 2 years, after being convicted in 2000 of embezzling £2 million from government funds and diverting it into the coffers of his party. He claimed that French President Jacques Chirac had granted Barrot amnesty. Although initial BBC reports claimed that, under French law, it was illegal even to mention the conviction, the prohibition in question only applies to French officials in the course of their duties. The president of the Parliament, Josep Borrell, enjoined him to retract his comments under threat of "legal consequences". However, the following day it was confirmed that Barrot had received an 8 month suspended jail sentence in the case, and that this had been quickly expunged by the amnesty decided by Chirac and his parliamentary majority. The Commission's president, Jose Manuel Barroso admitted that he had not known of Barrot's criminal record when appointing him as a Commission vice-president. The Socialist and Liberal groups in the European Parliament then joined UKIP in demanding the sacking of Barrot for failing to disclose the conviction during his confirmation hearings.

José Manuel Barroso

During the spring of 2005, Farage requested that the European Commissionmarker disclose where the individual Commissioners had spent their holidays. The Commission did not provide the information requested, on the basis that the Commissioners had a right of privacy. The German newspaper Die Welt reported that the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso had spent a week on the yacht of the Greek shipping billionaire Spiro Latsis. It emerged soon afterwards that this had occurred only a month before the Commission approved 10.3 million euro of Greek state aid for Latsis' shipping company. It also became known that Peter Mandelson, then a member of the Commission, had accepted a trip to Jamaicamarker from an unrevealed source.

Farage persuaded around 75 MEPs from across the political divide to back a motion of no confidence in Barroso, which would be sufficient to compel Barroso to appear before the European Parliament to be questioned on the issue. The motion was successfully tabled on 12 May 2005, and Barroso appeared before Parliament at a debate on 26 May 2005. The motion was heavily defeated. A Conservative MEP, Roger Helmer, was expelled from his group, the European People's Party - European Democrats (EPP-ED) in the middle of the debate by that group's leader Hans-Gert Poettering as a result of his support for Farage's motion.

Joseph Daul

In January 2007, the Frenchmarker farmers' leader Joseph Daul was elected the new leader of the European People's Party–European Democrats (EPP-ED), the European Parliamentary grouping which then included the British Conservatives. The UK Independence Party almost immediately revealed that Daul had been under judicial investigation in Francemarker since 2004 as part of an inquiry into the alleged misuse of public funds worth €16 million (£10.6 million) by French farming unions." It was not suggested that Daul had personally benefited, but was accused of "complicity and concealment of the abuse of public funds." Daul accused Farage of publicising the investigation for political reasons and threatened to sue Farage, but did not do so.

Prince Charles

Prince Charles gave a speech to the European Parliament on 14 February 2008, in which he called for EU leadership in the war against climate change. During the standing ovation that followed, Farage was the only MEP to remain seated and went on to describe the Prince's advisers as "naïve and foolish at best." Farage continued: "How can somebody like Prince Charles be allowed to come to the European Parliament at this time to announce he thinks it should have more powers? It would have been better for the country he wants to rule one day if he had stayed home and tried to persuade Gordon Brown to give the people the promised referendum [on the Treaty of Lisbon]." The leader of the UK Labour Party's MEPs, Gary Titley, accused Farage of anti-Royalism. Titley said: "I was embarrassed and disgusted when the Leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, remained firmly seated during the lengthy standing ovation Prince Charles received. I had not realised Mr Farage's blind adherence to right wing politics involved disloyalty and discourtesy to the Royal Family. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself and should apologise to the British people he represents.".

Electoral performance

Nigel Farage has contested several elections under the United Kingdom Independence Party banner:

In the 2006 Bromley and Chislehurst by-election, Farage came third, ahead of the Labour Party candidate. This was the first time since the Liverpool Walton by-election, 1991, that a party in government had been pushed into fourth place in a parliamentary by-election on mainland Britain.

Footnotes

  1. Farage to quit as UKIP Leader, UKIP website, Retrieved 4 September, 2009
  2. The prohibition contained in the French penal code against mentioning crimes covered by an amnesty only concerns French officials who may hear of such crimes in the course of their duties (CP L133-11), and does not apply generally (L133-10).


References



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