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Brexit Brief: Farage, scourge of the EU, pulls ahead in the polls

Nigel Farage is on course to defeat the U.K.’s main political parties at next month’s European Parliament elections — unless a Brexit deal can be reached fast Read More...

British MEP and prominent Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage is on course to defeat the U.K.’s main political parties at next month’s European Parliament elections — unless the country’s quarreling MPs can strike a deal to leave the bloc quickly.

Farage’s newly formed Brexit Party has a strong lead over both U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party, according to influential pollsters — suggesting the British public are angry and frustrated at their elected leaders’ inability to deliver Brexit on time.

The U.K. recently secured a six-month extension to the Brexit process, to October 31, to give parliamentarians more time to reach a consensus on exit terms and avoid a potentially damaging no-deal scenario. But if May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn cannot strike an accord before May 22, the U.K. will have to take part in European elections.

A leading YouGov poll found Farage’s party is favored by 27% of voters, with Labour on 22% and the Conservatives on 15%.

Farage has been an MEP for may years, most recently securing re-election in 2014 as a member of the UK Independence Party, or UKIP. A well-known euroskeptic, he is recognized for his no-holds-barred approach to admonishing EU leaders during parliamentary debates. Though never elected as an MP in his own country, Farage was nevertheless an influential voice in the run-up to the U.K.’s 2016 Brexit referendum, whose campaigning helped secure the vote to leave.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Chris Curtis, YouGov’s political research manager, said: “It is entirely plausible that we are facing another Farage-shaped upset at the ballot box. While there are more than five weeks of campaigning to go, I certainly wouldn’t bet against him.”

May has vowed to do all she can to avoid having to contest the European elections. Earlier this week, Guy Verhofstadt, one of the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiators, said he feared the U.K. would simply waste the extra time it has been given, allowing Farage to secure another victory next month.

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