Home Australia SUNDAY MAIL COMMENT: Farage is not Trump: his weakness for Putin does not endear him to anyone

SUNDAY MAIL COMMENT: Farage is not Trump: his weakness for Putin does not endear him to anyone

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Nige Farage said he would not apologize after political leaders criticized his claim that the West provoked Putin into invading Ukraine.

A man who wants to be prime minister can no longer simply say whatever he wants. From the moment he makes that ambition known, he is judged by much more severe and intrusive criteria than before.

You don’t just need to be careful in the future: you need to have been careful in the past.

You should expect the things you said years ago to be rigorously scrutinized. This has now happened to Nigel Farage, the leader of Reform UK.

Farage was perhaps a little giddy with success when he recently proclaimed on Radio 4 that he planned to bid for Downing Street at the next election, presumably in 2029.

He explained that he hoped to use the current contest, in which Reform UK is unlikely to win many seats, as a springboard.

Nige Farage said he would not apologize after political leaders criticized his claim that the West provoked Putin into invading Ukraine.

In an article published in the Telegraph on Saturday, Farage said he was neither an

Writing in the Telegraph on Saturday, Farage said he was neither a “Putin apologist nor a supporter” and described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “indefensible”, but claimed the West had made “catastrophic” mistakes during the conflict.

Farage did not behave like most politicians when asked about his high hopes. He did not seek to avoid the issue or pretend that he does not want to occupy number 10. He has seen his friend Donald Trump rise to the Oval Office out of sheer outrageous audacity and breaking all the rules. So why not him?

Well, that could work in the US presidential race. But perhaps Mr Farage, for years a gadfly and a guerrilla, does not fully understand how many obstacles and safeguards our parliamentary system puts in the path of a lone maverick.

Mr Farage never cared much for the limelight. But can it withstand a spotlight? It looks like he can not.

The BBC’s Nick Robinson didn’t even need to put him on the spot when asked about Farage’s remarks about Russian leader Vladimir Putin. He was already in danger.

For some time now, even before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, all major parties have agreed that support for Ukraine against Moscow’s aggression is a requirement for anyone seeking to be entrusted with national security.

Although we are not actually at war with Russia, we are closely allied with Ukraine and have been the target of Russian crimes on our territory. That is why we need to maintain a united front against the Kremlin and its propaganda.

And this has not just been the opinion of the elite. British public opinion is overwhelmingly on the same side.

Sympathy for Putin, or even an attempt to explain his actions, is not considered much better than sympathy for Hitler, as Reform UK will discover in the coming days.

Mr Farage has had experience of this for a long time. His fierce opposition to the Brussels establishment while in the European Parliament led him into dangerous territory, where millions of his current supporters will not wish to follow him. It may have once seemed to him that anti-EU sentiment led logically to sympathy for Russia’s position on the westward expansion of both the EU and NATO. Now expansion is going in the opposite direction and is carried out with tanks and bombs instead of diplomacy and subsidies.

As a result, its long-standing positions, which it still tries to defend, look like a serious liability. They also make voters wonder what else there is to carefully examine about the reformist leader and his party. What does it really represent, other than a vague and unabashed opposition that has never been tested in government?

The reform continues to surprise the nation with its selection of unfit candidates, presumably chosen because no one believed they had the slightest chance of winning. It seems they were right about this.

Mr Farage has suffered a severe blow and he has only himself to blame.

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