Farage to claim to be voice of 17.4m Brexit voters when meeting Barnier

Nigel Farage will seek to cast himself as the voice of 17.4 million leave voters when he meets the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Brussels.

The lifelong Eurosceptic campaigner is due to meet Barnier at the European commission headquarters on Monday at 11am (1000 GMT). Speaking on his LBC radio show on Sunday morning, Farage claimed the EU had not heard the views of 17.4 million leave voters and argued immigration was the main factor that had driven people into the polling booths.

“I genuinely don’t think Mr Barnier has heard the views of the 17.4 million people who stood up against the establishment,” Farage told listeners. He went on to outline his opposition to the government’s Brexit strategy of a two-year standstill transition period in which the UK would be subject to EU rules, without any decision-making power.

EU citizens

  • EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the rest of the EU have the right to stay. Rights of their children and those of partners in existing “durable relationships” are also guaranteed.
  • UK courts will preside over enforcing rights over EU citizens in Britain but can refer unclear cases to the European court of justice for eight years after withdrawal.

Irish border

  • The agreement promises to ensure there will be no hard border and to uphold the Belfast agreement.
  • It makes clear the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, will be leaving the customs union.
  • It leaves unclear how an open border will be achieved but says in the absence of a later agreement, the UK will ensure “full alignment” with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Good Friday agreement. 
  • However, the concession secured by the DUP is that no new regulatory barriers will be allowed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK without the permission of Stormont in the interest of upholding the Good Friday agreement.


  • There is no figure on how much the UK is expected to pay but the document sets out how the bill will be calculated – expected to be between £35bn and £39bn.
  • The UK agrees to continue to pay into the EU budget as normal in 2019 and 2020.
  • It also agrees to pay its liabilities such as pension contributions.

Other issues

  • The two sides agreed there would be need for cooperation on nuclear regulation and police and security issues.
  • There was an agreement to ensure continued availability of products on the market before withdrawal and to minimise disruption for businesses and consumers.

“We didn’t vote for a transition period, we didn’t vote to effectively pay the membership fee for another couple of years, but there are some pretty big issues we did vote on.”

His intervention underscores the pressure the government will face in fashioning a Brexit deal, despite the collapse of the Ukip vote in last year’s general election.

However, the Ukip MEP’s claim to be the voice of the leave campaign has been given short shrift by Barnier’s officials. Stefaan De Rynck, Barnier’s righthand man, told Farage to “tone it down” , noting that he was hardly the first to represent leave voters, as Barnier meets the British government “all the time”.

On Wednesday, Barnier is due to meet other leave campaigners, including Steven Woolfe, the former Ukip MEP who quit the party after being injured in a brawl with a fellow member in the European parliament. Digby Jones, the former trade minister, John Mills, chairman of Labour Leave, and John Longworth, the co-chairman of Leave means Leave, make up the rest of the delegation.

The leave campaigners, including Farage, requested a meeting with Barnier after the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, the former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke and the Labour peer Andrew Adonis held talks with Barnier last year.

Farage has promised to ask Barnier three questions sent in by British voters after launching an appeal for topics on Twitter. The #AskBarnier hashtag attracted a number of pro-remain questions that are unlikely to make the cut. Speaking on LBC, Farage made clear immigration was his priority.

“I will talk about trade, but [also] the big picture stuff, why we voted to leave and what the key issues were that motivated voters to stand up as they did on 23 June 2016.

“There was one reason that motivated people who had never voted in their lives to go the polling booths on that day and, yes, it was the question of open-door immigration.”

Barnier will be in “listening mode” and does not have a fixed agenda for the meeting, according to officials.

Since the British government cleared the hurdle to move on to the second phase of Brexit talks in December, no dates have been set for the next rounds of formal negotiations.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jennifer Rankin in Brussels, for theguardian.com on Sunday 7th January 2018 12.36 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010