Arron Banks on Nigel Farage

Coming up on Chopper’s political podcast. So, to be quite clear if Nigel Farage came to lead Reform UK, I think up to 10 MPs would walk across the floor straight away. Welcome to Chopper’s political podcast record. That my favourite Pub, a stone’s throw from the gates of the Houses of Parliament.

Weekly I bring you guests, gossip and stories from around my pub table in the heart of Westminster. This week we have one guest, one guest alone, one of the original bad boys of Brexit who’s keen to come on this podcast in an election year. To set out how he thinks it’ll play out the future of the Tory party, Reform UK and yes that man again Nigel Farage.

Interestingly on Google one of the questions if you ask it about my guest is this; what happened to Aaron Banks? Well, let’s find out.

Aaron Banks welcome to Choppers Political podcast, great to have you here yes in the pub, yeah whatever happened to you?

What do you mean? What happened, I don’t know, Google thinks you’ve gone, you’ve disappeared? Well I think obviously it was all about Brexit and Brexit’s kind of hasn’t faded away but obviously the political side of it dropped away and because you ran the Leave.EU campaign in the 2016 referendum.

I obviously got six of the best for supporting Brexit in a major way and I think you know with business and other things I’ve just gone back to being a businessman.

Leave.EU & Brexit

So look, you kind of changed to me since then, say 2014 when he emerged as a donor for Leave.EU. I’ve got a little bit less hair than before the campaign, Chris. But you first emerged didn’t you, you’re unveiled by UKIP on the day, the first day of the Tory conference it was actually, 13 or 14 what year that was. It must have been 2015 was it yeah, by Nigel Farage as a Tory, as a as a UKIP donor then you emerged on the campaign trail and you really enjoyed your time in politics?

I think it was William Hague that said, he’s a nobody, no one’s heard of him, because originally, I was going to donate £100,000. Yes, I said, I should come on, let’s make it a million then he said we need a press conference so rather surprising to me all the press assembled on my front lawn and that’s how it all kicked off really.

That’s right yeah, I was there, I was one of the journalists who were very disappointed. They were expecting the new MP to defect and they got me yeah.

We’ll come on defections shortly. Oh, I think there’s going to be a few of those yeah.

Well exactly, how is Brexit going for this country? Do you regret it?

No, not at all. I mean you know really nothing much has changed to me, all the dire warnings of huge unemployment and all things that were going to happen, I guess all you could say about Brexit is it’s somewhat associated with the Conservative party who have you know, let the country down very badly and so I think in some people’s eyes that’s related to Brexit.

Freedom for Politicians to do things outside the EU

Brexit was all about the freedom for politicians to do things outside the EU and the fact they’ve chosen not to take those freedoms is more down to the Conservative party than you know Brexit. It could be down to recent trade figure showing actually nothing’s happened despite all the talk. The fourth biggest exporter. I think the second biggest exporter of you know services, so we’re a massive country that’s just badly led and badly run and that’s the point, isn’t it?

So, you see headlines in the Guardian recently, I saw one about Brexit blamed for polluting rivers. It’s not Brexit that pollutes rivers, it’s people and if people can’t use those powers to get them clean, I think there is a real problem here.

That Brexit requires politicians to be more grown up and to actually run the country better, now you take a country like Switzerland that’s very well-run, it’s outside the EU or maybe associated with that, it’s down to the lack of political governance and I think my risk against the Conservative party is as much the incompetence that’s been displayed over the last 14 years rather than you know, Brexit did this, Brexit did that. Essentially Brexit makes them work harder, I mean a third of the rules were were decided in Brussels Yeah and then here this place could blame Brussels.

Now it’s all on this lot and if they don’t want to do the work, get a new bunch in. Well, I think as well that helped the Brexit campaign the way because for 25 years politicians have blamed Brussels, never said anything positive about it so they set the scene in their own little way for Brexit.

2019 Landslide Wasted

Do you feel sympathetic for the Tory government? There’s been two big events happening since they became one, that landslide in 2019 of course the invasion of Ukraine by Russia that caused the energy shock and of course the Covid pandemic before that yeah, I mean there is an element to that but you know if you look at the long-term public debt of this country it’s been going up you know. You will get shocks like that; I mean history shows that it’s not there’s never really plain sailing at any time is there really?

You go back to the 70s with the trade unions, at no point has ever been a golden point where nothing was happening. I mean Covid was massively mishandled you know £500 billion pounds as Boris might say spaffed up against the wall, you know for something that really in the round wasn’t that serious and so it was for some, but not for everybody yeah. Exactly and I think, but politicians obviously they’re not known for their calm approach to things and unfortunately the media people like you, but the media sort of them on to do some rather you used to make it yourself on social media.

You like a fight; well, I think my new resolution is going to be to leave the little trolls alone. I kind of do engage with people and you know you can’t. Some people you can’t help, so it’s time to probably step away. You met with Keir or I don’t think I’ve ever met either. I met the two, I met Mclusky and various other members of Labour because they were all beautifully Brexiteers that couldn’t say so back in the scenes.

They were very keen on the whole thing yeah. I saw you at Farage’s 60th birthday party, it did seem to me like the old Farage team which I was following back before 2015 is getting back together. A lot of the old faces, well that surprised me really, I expected to see a lot of sorts of Nigel’s newer friends should we say, but actually it was like a UKIP Reunion yeah so what is it that he is up to?

Tories and Labour are the same

Something, well I think if obviously if he comes back then I would think a lot of those people are going to instantly come in back into the new structure so the Brexit party it’s got a weakness probably. Lacks the kind of structure and political operatives of the Reform UK Party but I think it’s, I never like the name and I said so at the time, it’s a poor name for it but actually Nigel being a political genius of the years, actually probably got the name right because it is about political reform.

I mean the Labour party are likely to take over from the Conservatives and from what I can see they’re just going to continue the same policies with a different badge you know. It’s almost like the Conservative party’s attempt to appear to be left wing or socialist to you know not be nasty Tories and it’s almost like Labour party in government have got to be pretend to be Conservative because they’re trying to move into Middle Ground.

Not long for voters so I think you just end up with the same, you know naff policies that just carry on and on and I think Reform is the name of the game you know we’ve seen this. This is probably the rottenest Parliament that’s ever been seen and that’s saying something. Why is it rotten? I don’t know but you know I think it was to do with on the Conservative side with the reforms that David Cameron put in place. You mean the quality of the candidates?

Yes, I mean, look at this William Wragg, you know Scandal that’s going on, I’m sure there’s always been sex scandals in Parliament and there always will be but there seems to be an expansion of this kind of behaviour. He’s put under pressure by a spear fisher and yeah, he regrets what he did of course I didn’t even know what a spear fisher was.

Richard Tice has done a great job

I read that in your text. You said back in December, I thought that was a cat fish, is it spear fishing okay? All right well we, we’re too old for stuff and no one spear fishing me. You said in December you’re looking to raise £10 million pound if Nigel becomes leader, is that right?

I think that there’s a lot of disaffected Tories, sort of donors and I think you know it, I mean Richard Tice has actually done a great job to get to where he’s got to in the polls, but I think that shows more about the disaffection with both Conservative and Labour parties and I don’t see even though the Labour party got a huge poll lead, I don’t see a huge affection for the Labour party.

It’s just a total and utter disgust for what the Conservative party have done okay, so I think you know we see this shift and we’ve seen one Tory MP defect. I expect to see others.

How many more? I think it could be a landslide because you you’re not going to be able to win as a red wall Tory MP. How many might defect? So this is where I think you get to an interesting point of view don’t you because as Reform UK approach the Conservatives in the polls fast, first pass the post dictates that whoever’s in second place you know could then potentially get a wave of support from the other party, but how the heck are you going to win as a real Tory, you can’t.

They’ve abandoned it, their strategy now is to try and retain 150 seats in the home counties which is why they’re trying to be a little bit liberal, liberal Democrats seem to have vanished into a hole. So how many do you think MPs might come across to Reform UK prelection?

Tory MPs Can’t win in the Red Wall but might as Reform UK

Well, this is the point you can’t win as a conservative MP up north, your brand is completely destroyed. I mean some will, where I mean when I say up North, I’m talking about you know yeah Midlands, may be Northern England but frankly the polls suggesting that red wall Tories is going to be completely wiped out.

I think more than a dozen to say that because you know that they’re at a point where they can’t win as a Conservative but they might have half a chance as a Reform UK candidate.

When you say that’s what you think yeah or have you do you know names that you can’t say now or you can say, well I know least three or four names of who are in talks now yeah?

The people talking about it and I would expect this to just accelerate but it this is the Farage factor that if he comes back and then they pick up another two or three points in the polls. So Richard Tice has done a good job but I think, when you see 15 points in the polls that’s really the hope factor that Nigel’s coming back right but, actually if he does come back and gets traction and you start to see, I think there’s some polls out already saying that they’re heading with men in the middle.

Break it down they’re already leading in certain places and I think the Tory party had given up on they know they’re going to lose so they’re trying to focus on you know re-emergence of one nation soft Tory the MP for Reigate you know, it’s that kind of Tory MP.

Nigel Farage

So be quite clear if Nigel Farage came to lead Reform UK, I think 10, I think 10 Tory MPs would walk across the floor straight away. I think as well that that’s part of his calculus you know.

MPs are in contact with him daily about this kind of thing and I think you know if he does come back, it’ll be on the back of something fairly spectacular. Wow, I mean he of course is saying he’s not sure what to do, he’s weighing up his options, Trump and being an MP. Back to you, are you donating to Reform UK?

I’m sort of I haven’t decided and you know we’ll see what Nigel does I mean he’s you know, there’s the dragon we got to see if St George gets on the bloody horse with his largesse. St George’s day is about two weeks away but, I do think that if he does, he you know, he would be in contact with you know probably already over 10 MPs that would do it and I think this is where Reform is.

Interest in I think the Tories are they’re facing a extinction level event like the Liberal party did when the Labour party came into existence and so actually they could be wiped out at the next general election and if they fall below 100 seats then I mean you probably know the history of the Liberal Party better than me.

But it I don’t think it happened in one go, but it certainly took two elections, gone, they yeah but, it took two elections, no guarantee that you will as William Hague was saying actually, quite interestingly a few months ago there’s no guarantee any for any party that you haven’t got to that point.

Politics is Fast Today

You start to fade away, there’s no guarantee also I think things happen quicker in politics now than they did then, so with social media, with the way things develop you know, we saw that with Macron, didn’t he came out of nowhere and destroyed the political establishment En Marche, he created that party for nothing.

The guy in Argentina he just came right out of the blue. Obviously, this is the danger for the Conservative party that they’ve let down their voters in a horrendous way and Rishi is just a…  I don’t know actually how you describe him, a technocrat you know he’s a Brexiteer that’s what you call him, he’s very quiet, he’s a right winger you know, maybe not so.

Why would a right winger on tax appoint Jeremy Hunt as a Chancellor to oversee the highest taxes? All the markets but after, post the Truss debacle well I think it’s most of all about, but about you Banks so you and me talking in the pub.

What, how big is the donation you would give if Farage came back? Well, I’m not going to say that at this stage. Is it seven figures?

I’m not going to say that but what I will say is there’re bigger beasts than me that I think are lining up to back Nigel in this sort of way and that this £10 million, I think that you get multiples of that because people are really angry and I think £10 million for  Reform yes and I think there’s already Tory donors and people even outside of politics are just getting angry now and I think this is, it’s the perfect storm for Nigel to come back into.

Can Farage Resist the Challenge?

But I do think at this stage he’s genuinely undecided, but that’s what he tells us, some moths to the flame. He won’t be able to resist this, I just can’t see it. Well, it’s very true but also as well you know going back to St George example St George can’t sit it out with the wheezy boys and the lemons can he on the bench?

He’s got to get on the horse and slay the dragon, I think he’s got to worry about us I suppose and why we, all the time, but there we are because he’s the person he is. The load Star right now yeah and I think he’s right for Thatcherite Tories, that you know most members would like to I mean he may also as well I think he may also be trying to work out the calculus of where the Tory part is going and actually whether the reverse takeover the Tory party is on.

Which is of course what Trump did with the Republican Party, he orchestrated a reverse takeover of the Republican Party, against its will, very much against its will and so that kind of thing might be in his mind as well.

That actually with the Tory party completely imploding is there actually an opportunity you know and to do that you’ve got to be an MP. Why did you commission a poll in Clacton Constituency asking if Farage could be its MP, encourage him to come back into politics?

Chris, did he ask you to do it for him? How not to tell? You did it trying to give a push, you’re being mischievous aren’t you trying give push in the back you know? But what did your poll find? I think the poll found that Farage would win by eight points there and we always knew that I mean Douglas Carswell you know he always thought it was his immense charm and charismatic personality that one might have been it, well it wasn’t was it?

Clacton Constituency

Clacton was the most winnable UKIP seat in the country and it’s most winnable seat for Reform UK really because you’ve got two factors. It’s a very old population at sixty probably 65 and it’s you know it’s a strong Labour vote there, but the Labour vote down that neck of the woods love Nigel so I think he would walk it.

Going back to the red wall seats though as well, if you if you’re a politician in a red wall seat Reform UK turn it into a three-way battle which means you might potentially have a chance of winning it whereas I think under the Tory Banner they’re gone.

You know if you were Richi Sunak right now you’d be trying to get Farage onside now. He’ll never do that but he told GB News last October, we’re a broad church when I asked the PM would you allow Farage in, he repeated that they were a broad church.

I thought he wasn’t talking about a crime drama on the south coast of England he means that we will accept people from wherever they come from.

Why wouldn’t you offer a deal to Farage now if you see I think, I just don’t see it because the One Nation part of the Tory party is split from top to bottom, a bit like the Republican party and you know the Rhinos or whatever you like to call them (Republican in name only).

I cannot recall the Republican in name only yeah but I can’t see how the One Nation Tory Group which is the significant part of the Tory party would allow Farage back in. There’s a broad church but I mean come on it’s like sort of and this being tested right now with withdrawing from the ECHR withdrawal is a new I mean Cleverly says he wants to control legal immigration, but he wants to have foreign courts decide our immigration policy.

ECHR Withdrawal

While Sunak says he doesn’t like it happening and he’s willing to withdraw if it comes to it. Sunak says lots of things and does absolutely bugger all you know, that’s the basic bottom line and he doesn’t seem like a bad bloke but he just seems hopelessly out of his depth in what he’s got to do.

But also, he’s got a party that’s split from top to bottom so he can’t actually ever get anything done, don’t think that you’re doing Keir Starmers bidding by bigging up Reform UK because it takes away for the Tories.

If you put together the support in the polls, if Reform weren’t there okay you have like 31% and they’re still going to lose and they’re going to lose bad. With the don’t knows they’re near 40%, you had the Reform vote with the don’t knows, you get near parity you know.

So, a political party shouldn’t stand and you know put forward a program because it might hurt the Conservative party?

There a bunch of entitled nobodies as far as I’m concerned, to quote you know William Hague who are the Tory party? They’re so entitled it’s you know that’s the first thing they come up with well you’re helping Keir Starmer into government well maybe you should take responsibility for 14 years of total failure in government.

I accept the point there was Covid and Ukraine and various other things but they’ve been pretty dreadful, so why do they have a divine right to government?

Conservative Party Wipe Out is Coming

No and I think actually the Conservative party as it currently exists is going to be wiped out and I think if Nigel does it, he’s done a great service to the country. Maybe something new and better can you know come forward in its place. Wow, well Aaron Banks whatever happened to Aaron Banks he’s back. Will he be around politics this year? It’s a big question, I’m sort of, you’re talking aren’t you, we’re waiting for our Lord and Master to make his mind up on what he’s going to do.

Well to me he’s just Nigel Farage, he’s no one’s Lord and Master but it’ be interesting to see what he does next. Aaron Banks thank you for joining us today, thank you Chris Choppers podcast in the pub, here in Westminster.

I’d love to know your thoughts about what you thought about what Aaron had to say? It was quite dramatic, do tweet me, Christopher Hope, on email me Chopper GB News. If you enjoy this podcast please do tell your friends, if you’ve really enjoyed it please leave a five star rating and a review on Apple podcast and Spotify helps other people to find it thank you to the brilliant team of GB News, colleagues behind this podcast, Mick Booker, Jeff Marsh Reynes George Millan, Alice Tatal all the camera people in the pub today, most importantly of all thank you for listening.

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