Former UKIP Leader Nigel Farage has waded back into the debate over Brexit. He has insisted that immigration needs to be at the heart of the Brexit negotiations after a midweek meeting with Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier.
Farage was a key figure in the Brexit referendum campaigning for the UK to leave the European Union. During his political career, Farage was an MEP and regularly caused outrage with grandstanding pronouncements in front of shocked onlookers. He has now come back to the fray to try and guide the negotiations to be more focused on removing freedom of movement from the UK after Brexit in 2019.
Farage attacked the “deeply worrying” failure of the European Union to address border controls in the negotiations thus far. He claimed that Barnier did not understand the strain that he perceives as being put on Britain's services by immigration and that being one of the key reasons that the UK decided to leave the Union after 40 years of membership.
It has been a week full of meetings in Brussels. First off a delegation of so-called “remainders” went to visit Barnier. The team included Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. So far the movement has been extremely slow in the negotiations and with only just over a year to go until the UK is due to leave, many are worried that both sides are a long way from any sort of deal being finalised. The rights of EU citizens in the UK is a big issue that has, according to sources close to the negotiations, have not even been discussed as yet.
While both sides mull over the details of the exit, there are many EU citizens in the UK without any certainty on their future within the country. It is simply not acceptable that people are in this position and the Government have been urged to deal with this at the earliest opportunity rather than continue to use EU citizens as pawns in a chess game.
This week Farage raised the prospect of a second referendum on the issue of Brexit. He appears to still believe that the public backs the decision to leave the union, but opinion polls still show the decision as being extremely divisive and it is not clear that the UK would vote the same way again. Indeed looking at the way the negotiations have been handled, it seems less clear than ever as to what the outcome would be a second referendum. It is this lack of certainty that means the decision to leave the European Union in the first place was contentious and may not have been the right decision for the UK. For many, the idea of a second referendum is heaven and for others hell. Whatever happens, it is clear that the issue is not settled by a long way.