The Salisbury Diplomatic society hosted Nigel Farage, with 350 Etonians squeezing into a packed Upper School. His talk, 'Europe: In or Out?’ , opened with an expression of admiration for the diversity of cultures in Europe, cleverly positioning of course the impossibility of any feasible political integration. Warming to his theme of the unacceptable cost of £9 billion per annum, Mr Farage countered the argument of the economic benefits of the EU by citing Norway and Switzerland as evidence that an “amicable divorce” would not affect British trade with Europe. But the power of his talk lay also in his distinctly personal perspective on the EU with some memorable and witty anecdotes concerning his encounters with Chancellor Merkel and Herman Van Rompuy. Questions from the floor were understandably challenging: from “what else does UKIP stand for?” to “Do you regret labelling Belgium a non-country?” In a mixed atmosphere of scepticism combined with some awe, Mr Farage masterfully defused any implicit criticism and skirted around the more aggressive questions. “No, I don't regret it,” he stated, “Belgium simply lacks the characteristics of a nation state.” Overall, Mr Farage’s trademark panache and conviction in his arguments made for a very entertaining talk.
Henry Hall (WFM)