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This morning’s papers carry the story of Nigel Farage’s fury at the BBC’s Andrew Marr for the manner in which the latter interviewed him on his show yesterday.
The Brexit Party leader has attacked the presenter’s decision to ask a series of awkward questions about his historical views on a range of policy areas, ranging from private healthcare to gun control, despite the fact that his new party has no policies beyond leaving the European Union.
Farage suggests that this was a ploy by the BBC to avoid talking about the Brexit Party’s success or the factors driving that success. But for all the sound and fury, the row probably suits both sides.
As far as the BBC goes, Marr’s questions were entirely legitimate even if they weren’t to Farage’s liking. He’s an influential figure in British politics and intends his party to contest the next general election, where its domestic agenda will inevitably come into focus. Given his position of apparently absolute power within the Brexit Party (which has no formal membership) the voters have a right to probe Farage’s views on these questions.
On the other hand, it is unlikely that the fallout of the interview will do very much to dent Farage’s support. For all that the Brexit Party is a much sleeker and consciously more cosmopolitan beast than UKIP, there is still likely a ceiling to Farage’s support, perhaps around a third of the electorate. For such voters the idea that the BBC is conspiring against their man wouldn’t be a hard sell, even if they’re not specifically in tune with him on guns or Russia.
The ‘establishment stitch-up’ has always been Farage’s favourite card, and Marr has perhaps given him another opportunity to burnish his outsider status. But it’s unlikely to do much long-term damage to either man, nor to the institutions they represent.