For some less than totally principled politicians, it helps to have friends in the press, and there is no finer example of this friendship than the almost total news blackout yesterday of the latest setback to afflict former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage. The European Parliament has demanded that Nige pay back around £80,000 of expenses to which he was not entitled. That might cause Mr Thirsty a problem.
Squeaky £80k finger up the bum time
Why the problem? As EU Today has reported, the EP “has objected to the fact that one of his staff, paid by the EU to assist him in his work as an MEP, is also working for UKIP, the party of which Farage was formerly leader. This is against the Parliament’s rules”. Zelo Street regulars might also recall the potential misuse of MEP’s staff by former head Kipper Paul Nuttall, aka the “Bad Bootle Meff”, in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election.
Reminding us that “This will not the first time that money has been reclaimed from UKIP MEPs by the European Parliament for such a breach of the rules”, EU Today then reveals the lame “look over there” tactic employed by Farage: “Whilst not denying the facts of the matter, Farage has defended his position by claiming that the staff member in question was working for the party ‘on a voluntary basis’”. A voluntary fiddle, then.
And it gets worse, as Nige proceeds to play the victim. “Without any formal procedure of any kind at all, the letter tells me they’re going to take £80,000 from me…. And it’s now my job to prove my innocence and so what we’re actually dealing with here, these unelected people are behaving frankly like people back in Stalin’s day did”. Yeah, right.
What happens when Westminster MPs get caught over-claiming their expenses? Do they start whining about “unelected people” and comparing IPSA to Stalin? Does this form some kind of valid defence when caught with their hands in the till? Damn right it doesn’t.
But at least Farage is in good company. “The employment of party officials through the members assistance allowance is in fact a very common practice amongst MEPs of all nationalities: Marine Le Pen has also been caught out recently, and UKIP is certainly not the only British party to have done this”. It’s still against the rules, though.
So when is he going to pony up the £80k? Not until he’s once again misused the platform given to him by LBC to indulge in a little creative retelling: “What I’m guilty of is not in any way misusing public money. What I’m guilty of is blasphemy. I’ve spoken out against their beloved Union, I’ve helped Brexit to happen, and therefore I must be punished”.
Yes, the Express reported the story, but only so they could kick the hated EU and rally to their pal’s defence. But that defence is worthless: Farage knows the rules, knows he’s been caught bang to rights, and knows he has to find £80,000 somehow.
And that could be the problem: my information is that Nige can’t lay his hands on that kind of money right now. So the European Parliament will just have to take it out of his MEP’s salary. Playing the victim won’t work this time. Serves the dishonest SOB right.