“If Brexit doesn’t mean Brexit, I’ll be back in 2019 — and probably with a pitchfork,” the former UKIP leader said in a barnstorming speech at the European Freedom Awards, a gala event for European nationalists held in Stockholm.
Farage said that he would renew his fight if Friday’s court ruling that the British Parliament must vote on Article 50, the first step in the UK leaving the EU, was used to delay.
“If there is any attempt to water it down, to kick it into the long grass, the British people will not put up with it, and I will myself return from this very quiet period of my life, this retirement that I’m going through.”
Stockholm’s Grand Hotel, one the Swedish capital’s most historic and lavish venues, has come under harsh criticism for hosting the awards, which are styled as “an alternative Nobel”.
The awards were hosted by the populist Sweden Democrats (SD) and paid for by the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe, the grouping of populist parties co-founded by UKIP and the Sweden Democrats.
While Farage received a standing ovation from the roughty 300-strong audience, he visibly struggled with the taciturn Swedish crowd, several times pausing for laughter only to get total silence.
He had some limited success when he tried to get the audience to boo at a succession of international figures, such as EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, former UK PM Tony Blair, and US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
In his speech, Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, criticised the European Union and also went into the discussion of what constitutes someone’s nationality.
“It is a combination of values, norms and social codes. The whole package shapes us to become Swedes, Englishmen or Frenchmen,” he said.
Expressen cited recent polls which showed that only 30 percent of Swedes would vote to leave the EU if a referendum were held today, making the ‘Swexit’, many UK papers have predicted would follow closely on the heels of Brexit, look a long way off.
But in an interview with the newspaper, Åkesson said he nonetheless intended to keep pushing the issue.
“I would like to continue to focus on the EU issue. There was very much a focus on it during the first half of the year and with the UK’s referendum. I want to continue to focus on the EU, the shifting of powers to Brussels and democracy issues, and of course also issues connected to how we are involved in European cooperation. This is an effort to keep the debate alive.”
In his speech, Farage predicted that Brexit would “prove an inspiration to people across the whole of the western world who believe in freedom, liberty and democracy.”
He said that the same arguments waged during the UK referendum campaign was now being played out in the US, with Donald Trump representing many of the same values held by UKIP and the Sweden Democrats.
“Donald Trump may be imperfect, he may be a breast-beating alpha-male, silverback gorilla, he may be someone who says things that intend to shock and steal the media agenda,” he said. “But Trump believes in the things many of the people here believe in.”