Brexit Countdown: 7 days to go

‘Baron Farage of Brexit’ and fall of the Habsburgs — or not
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Lord Farage?
The Leave campaign owes a lot to Nigel Farage, the man who pretty much forced David Cameron to have a referendum, and whose language on immigration and sovereignty is now at the core of the debate.

On Wednesday a rumour surfaced that the Ukip leader’s reward could be a government job and a peerage if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister. That would give Mr Farage the seat at Westminster that he has conspicuously failed to win despite standing seven times to become an MP.

Hold on — isn’t the whole Brexit campaign against “unelected lawmakers”? As Sir Winston Churchill once put it, when offered an honour after his 1945 election defeat: “Why should I accept the Order of the Garter from His Majesty when the people have just given me the Order of the Boot?” He did eventually accept the Order of the Garter, but only after winning an election.

Fishy tales

Michael Gove told Sky News this month that his father’s company “went to the wall” because of EU fisheries policies.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove takes part in a live Sky News Q&A on Brexit © PA

But did it really? Gove senior has told the Guardian that he shut the fish-processing business voluntarily, and there “wasn’t any hardship or things like that”. He added that the voluntary decision was taken because Scotland’s fishing industry had shrunk after the EU took control.

Let’s call it a score-draw. Anyway, it’s not the first time Ernest Gove has provided more insight than his son may have liked. In 2010 he revealed that, “Michael started getting interested in politics as a young boy. The funny thing is he went door-to-door, canvassing for Labour.”

Short-sighted Spectator?
Only three publications backed Out in the 1975 referendum: the Spectator, the Morning Star and the highly influential Dundee Courier. The Spectator, owned by the Barclay brothers, is now backing Out again.

But its rationale confused some historically minded readers. “Since 1975 the EU has mutated in exactly the way we then feared and now resembles nothing so much as the Habsburg Empire in its dying days,” the Spectator claimed.

In fact, according to the recently published The Habsburg Empire: A New History, the Habsburgs actually recovered from a bout of nationalist crises around the 1900s. “These crises produced a willingness among some elites to develop more flexible models of power-sharing within the empire,” it says. The problem was a world war. Surely no one would suggest there might be another one of those?

Quote of the day

“I think the doctors have got it wrong on smoking.”
Nigel Farage on his decision to light up again

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