Nigel Farage is considering booking a return to frontline politics if his jungle adventure goes to plan.
The Brexit campaigner spoke of his ambitions in his final interview before he heads into camp for I’m A Celebrity, as well as criticising the predicament of the Conservative party.
He also vowed not to let the reality TV experience change him and insisted he would “bring people to the programme” rather than reduce the number of viewers after some fans said they won’t watch.
Asked about his controversial appearance on the show which will net him up to £1million, Farage said: “My hopes are that I do well. My hopes are that I don’t fall to pieces. Well, that’s a fear really, isn’t it?
“I mean, if it goes wrong, it’ll be a disaster. But look, I’ve never ever been frightened in life of doing things, of taking gambles. This is a gamble, obviously, but I think it’s one that’s worth taking.
“I mean, this year has been a great year for me. The Tric Awards plus the banking stuff where I’ve genuinely been able to get support from across the political spectrum, which is not something I’ve been known for for the last 20 years. So it has been a good year and some would say, “Well, why risk it?” But in my view, if things are going well, just keep going.”
Farage, 59, worked in the City before leaving to enter politics and became one of the founder members of the UK Independence Party, at that time known as the Anti-Federalist League.
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By 1999 Farage was one of three UKIP members voted into the European Parliament, representing the south-east of England and he won re-election four times. Despite multiple attempts though he is yet to become an MP…..yet.
Discussing politics and his future, he made it clear he was open to returning after his jungle stint and may try yet again to become an MP.
Starting with a dig at the Tories and the PM’s new Foreign Secretary, he said: “I think the David Cameron appointment is probably, if not the final, then perhaps the penultimate nail in the Conservatives election coffin for next year.
“I mean, the whole thing is over. They are deteriorating very, very rapidly and there is absolutely no chance of them coming back from this.
“As far as I’m concerned, well look, I would look at this in the longer term.
“But in the shorter term, I’m not doing this [IAC] for overt political reasons. In the longer term, well, I might be interested in having another go at some point.”
Asked about trying to win votes for the elections in the jungle, where public votes are also needed for success, he laughed and said: “I tell you what, the only manifesto pledge is – do what I’m doing, get outside your normal daily life and do something different and take a bit of a chance. And free booze for everybody!”
He also was at pains to stress people may see him as normal once he is filmed in camp 24/7. Asked about the real Nigel Farage when the tie comes off, he said: “Remarkably normal. I know that’s disappointing, but remarkably normal. I enjoy the sort of things that most people enjoy. I care about things that a lot of people care about.
“I’m not an exceptional person in any way at all. I just happen to be somebody who has ideas and works very hard at trying to fulfil them, which is why I’ve made myself such a nuisance for the British and European establishment.
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“If I’ve got a fault, well, sometimes I can get a bit impatient. I think that being short-tempered is something I’m prone to a little bit and I guess in there, food deprived, et cetera, I’m going to have to learn to be patient with people even if they’re goading me.
“But look, in the camp, of course as you say, people see the real you and I would like to think that I could work with other people as a team.”
Some people have said they are offended and outraged Farage is appearing on the show with some saying they won’t watch the show this year.
Asked what he thought about this backlash, he boasted: “Do you know what? There’s a lot more people who haven’t watched the programme that know me or supported me – some of the millions that have supported me over the years – I think, I’ll bring people to the programme, not diminish. All right?
“Anyone who’s a lover of I’m A Celebrity who doesn’t watch it just because I’m on it has got to be an incredibly small-minded person.”
Farage insists he will not be aiming to talk about political subjects all the time in camp, but admits they tend to follow him around.
He said: “I have no intention of going in and arguing about Brexit, but as I find wherever I go, even at family events, everybody else wants to talk about it. So I’m sure that’ll be raised.
“The immigration thing, well, obviously, and again I won’t raise it, but the sort of incredible prejudice that is being shown against Israel and against Jewish people frankly is a subject that will get linked to immigration in the camp.
“So I think it’s almost unavoidable with me being there that these conversations won’t happen, but I’m not going in to have a political bully pulpit or anything of the kind.”
Told his language in the past on such subjects had been divisive, he said: “The point about having opinions is people hate you for having opinions if you’re not prepared to listen to the other person’s point of view.
But I’m always more than willing to listen to other people’s point of view.”
Previous contestants have declared the jungle experience as lifechanging, and others break down in tears when receiving letters from home.
Father-of-four Farage seems unlikely to be someone saying similar things in three weeks’ time.
He added: “I’m A Celebrity might change the perception of me as a person, but it won’t change me as a person, no. I am what I am. I’m open minded. I listen to all points of view despite the fact I hold my own views very strongly.
“And as I say, I believe I’m relatively normal. But hey you can all judge that over the next few weeks…”
- I’m A Celebrity starts on Sunday night at 9pm on ITV and ITVX
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