When Nigel Farage’s mother saw the politician taking a shower on I’m A Celeb, she thought: Good God, it’s my oldest son’s bare backside!
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We know his girlfriend thinks it’s ‘great’. ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it!’ an unabashed 44-year-old Lauré Ferrari told the Mail yesterday.

But I can’t help but wonder, as I settle down on Barbara Farage’s cream leather sofa in her neat Orpington home, whether she was quite as relaxed to see her son Nigel’s bottom on her television screen when he took a shower in the I’m A Celebrity jungle last week?

‘When I first saw it, I did think: ‘Good God, it’s my oldest son’s backside!’,’ Barbara tells me. ‘That was a bit much . . . he’s a former politician after all.’

Her eyes widen with shock, and then, all too rapidly, her face dissolves into a distinctively Faragian grin.

For once the initial surprise of the sight of her son’s posterior had faded, Barbara — a flawlessly coiffed blonde in her late 80s — admits she was actually rather impressed with his physique.

Barbara Farage ¿ a flawlessly coiffed blonde in her late 80s ¿ admits she was actually rather impressed with her son Nigel's physique

Barbara Farage — a flawlessly coiffed blonde in her late 80s — admits she was actually rather impressed with her son Nigel’s physique

Barbara has settled down each evening at 9pm with some trepidation to see what punishments will be inflicted on her son on ITV's I'm a Celebrity

Barbara has settled down each evening at 9pm with some trepidation to see what punishments will be inflicted on her son on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity

Farage trying to unlock padlocks during a trial on I'm a Celebrity

Farage trying to unlock padlocks during a trial on I’m a Celebrity

ROLLERCOASTER SON: An 18-month-old Nigel Farage on the beach

ROLLERCOASTER SON: An 18-month-old Nigel Farage on the beach

‘I thought how slim he was — but then he does eat well, he doesn’t snack or have cakes. And, remember, Nigel will be 60 next April and considering the life he has led, with the worry he’s always had, I thought he looked quite good.’

Every night at 9pm, Barbara, mother of one of the country’s most controversial characters, has settled down with some trepidation to watch ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, to see what punishments will be inflicted on her son.

It’s proving to be a rollercoaster ride, even for this most resolute of matriarchs. Indeed, this week saw Nigel shout for mercy during a terrifying trial in which he was submerged in a tank of freezing water containing huge snakes — much to Barbara’s concern.

‘Obviously he struggled with [that trial]. I think it shows that he is human,’ she says. ‘He couldn’t stand the cold water, he was never a strong swimmer. It was too much for him.’

One trial Barbara confesses to having rather enjoyed, however, was Nigel’s drinking challenge with former boxer Tony Bellew. The pair had to down six pints of concoctions, including blended animal penises, something notorious bon viveur Nigel achieved with aplomb.

‘Well, he coped with that,’ says Barbara, chuckling. ‘He [must have convinced himself] . . . this is ale!’

Meeting the convivial Barbara is, at times, rather unnerving. She has the same laugh as her famous son, and a facsimile of his grin lights up her face as we chat over tea and a plate of digestive biscuits.

Photographs of Nigel and her family adorn her study — she has three other children, 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Clearly, she is terribly proud of her eldest boy and his achievements.

He, in turn, adores her. A man never afraid to take on enemies forcefully in public, behind closed doors, Nigel is, says Barbara, a doting son.

‘He always remembers my birthday,’ she says. ‘He brings me roses, and at Christmas he buys huge lilac ones. He is a good, attentive son and has never raised his voice to me in his life.’

It’s fair to say, though, that Nigel has a rather chequered past when it comes to relationships with other women.

Twice married, first to Grainne Hayes with whom he has two sons, Sam and Tom, and then to German Kirsten Mehr, mother of his daughters Victoria and Isabelle, he has at times been dogged by accusations of infidelity. He is currently in a relationship with the much younger Lauré Ferrari.

Yet there is one woman to whom he has remained resolutely loyal, and who knows him best — his devoted mum.

Indeed, the longer we talk, the more it becomes clear where his intelligence — and deeply rebellious streak — comes from.

For while we know Farage to be a canny politician with the common touch, a man who blends a love of World War I history with the works of Charles Darwin, his mother is also a deeply cerebral, independent woman.

She keeps herself occupied by giving talks to the Woman’s Institute on local and natural history topics, including Charles Darwin (the Victorian naturalist is a hero of the Farage family). She drives herself to her talks, and reads voraciously at home.

Barbara also shares the same look-at-me nature as her showman son. Her platinum blonde hair carries a chunky streak of pink — added, she says, by her hairdresser to perk her up after a stroke, and is now a fixture of her look.

Her manicured nails are artfully coated in a neat striped Shellac design, while her bright red dress is reminiscent of Coronation Street’s Bet Lynch.

Nigel himself has described his mother as ‘exceptionally glamorous’ — so much so that, in her late 60s and early 70s, she performed a full ‘Calendar Girls’ homage, by stripping off and posing for fund-raising calendars, her dignity preserved by flowers and other items. Once, pink roses were painted over much of her body. It was all for a good cause, though — those calendars raised £42,000 for charity.

A rebellious non-conformist, with passionate opinions, a love of attention, and an acute intellect: mother is, then, rather like son.

Still, though, for all their similarities, Barbara admits life with Nigel is nothing short of tumultuous.

‘He wins best news presenter on a Tuesday and then gets de-banked on a Thursday. He lifts our spirits on a Tuesday and then dampens them on a Thursday. It is a rollercoaster being his mother,’ she admits.

His public profile has rewarded him with endless threats and vitriol, particularly from the Left after Brexit. Racism is often an accusation thrown at her son, something Barbara admits has been difficult to cope with.

Farage's public profile has rewarded him with endless threats and vitriol, particularly from the Left after Brexit. Mother Barbara admits that it has been difficult to cope with accusations of racism levelled at her son

Farage’s public profile has rewarded him with endless threats and vitriol, particularly from the Left after Brexit. Mother Barbara admits that it has been difficult to cope with accusations of racism levelled at her son

Farage with fellow I'm a Celebrity contestant Nick Pollard

Farage with fellow I’m a Celebrity contestant Nick Pollard

Farage endures spiders crawling on his body during the In Too Deep bushtucker trial

Farage endures spiders crawling on his body during the In Too Deep bushtucker trial

Pictured: Nigel Farage aged 7 on a rocking horse in a garden

Pictured: Nigel Farage aged 7 on a rocking horse in a garden

Farage¿s biographer, Michael Crick, recounts how at his first school, the boy would defend his mother against those who teased him for having divorced parents

Farage’s biographer, Michael Crick, recounts how at his first school, the boy would defend his mother against those who teased him for having divorced parents

The topic has raised its head again in the jungle with his campmate Nella Rose — the 26-year-old-YouTube star of Congolese descent — accusing him of being ‘anti-immigrant’, claiming that ‘you want us all gone’. Asked about Nella Rose, Barbara shoots straight back: ‘Well, she wants publicity for herself . . . she wants publicity for her chat show.’

Asked if she thinks Nella is baiting him, Barbara nods: ‘I think she has been put in there to do it.

‘I loved the way Nigel said to her, ‘I believe I have upset you, can we talk it through?’ which I thought was nice. He apologised, although she was way out of line.’

‘She got on to immigration with Nigel and I think she was gunning for that, just to upset him. She was pressing his buttons to see his reaction.’

Barbara is used to people ‘gunning’ for her son. ‘They always say he is racist,’ says Barbara, looking saddened.

‘He isn’t, but he has to battle against that. Within his party, he has people across the board and he has many different friends.’

Does she worry? ‘I do when he is too outspoken. I think sometimes he is stepping near the mark, but he seems to shrug it off.’

It has, though, always been the way. Even as a child, Barbara describes Nigel as a ‘complex character’, before adding: ‘But he has made our lives interesting.’

To some extent, it has long been her and Nigel against the world. When he was aged just four, Barbara’s husband and Nigel’s father, Guy, walked out on the family. A stockbroker, Guy was both a workaholic and, for a time, overly reliant on alcohol. After he went, Barbara was left as a single mother.

Farage’s biographer, Michael Crick, recounts how at his first school, Greenhayes in West Wickham, Kent, the boy would defend his mother against those who teased him for having divorced parents. Nigel, says Crick, ‘fought back, telling schoolmates that divorce was quite normal, if not compulsory, among ‘clever’ and ‘top people’. The experience probably nurtured a tough resilience.’

Today, Barbara will say only: ‘It was a sad time in our lives but we had to get over it and we came out the other end.’

She never discussed the divorce with any of her children — even Nigel, because he was simply ‘too young’.

As a small boy, Nigel would ‘never sit still’, says Barbara. Constantly in the garden, aged 11, he took up birdwatching — ‘not female birdwatching’, she quickly clarifies — while cycling, cricket and football were also favourites.

‘He would come home and study the books to find out what the birds were. He was not one to sit in front of the telly,’ she says.

Even as a child, she says, Nigel would insist on dressing smartly and had ‘high standards’ on how he conducted himself.

This continued, she insists, in his time at Dulwich College in South-East London, the £25,000-a-year private school where he was a high achiever, according to his mother, although she remembers him struggling at maths.

Yet others have said Nigel was thoroughly rumbustious while there. Michael Crick recounts one episode in his fourth year when Nigel ‘and other members of his form clubbed together to buy a bottle of whisky, which they brought into school and drank behind the cricket pavilion before morning assembly’.

Other schoolmates remember spitting competitions at the local train station, with points awarded for hitting commuters, a competition Nigel regularly won.

More seriously, others claim they recall Nigel making anti-Semitic and racist comments. Some say he was expelled — an allegation Barbara is furious to hear: ‘He absolutely did not get expelled. He left school at 18 when he’d finished his A-levels.’

Crick agrees, reporting that Nigel’s headmaster came under great pressure to expel him after he’d made him a prefect — some more Left-wing staff were not endeared to the teenager’s character and opinions.

Master David Emms told Crick: ‘They wanted to expel him. I think it was naughtiness rather than racism. I saw good in him and he responded to being made a prefect. I saw considerable potential in this chap and I was proved right.’

Barbara says: ‘He enjoyed school but he was a prankster, he got up to all sorts. He was known as The Mimic because he used to mimic the voices of the masters.

‘I’m sure that didn’t go down very well. [But] at Dulwich College he knew every boy’s name, and on his last report his master wrote: ‘The college will be a poorer place without this young man’s personality.’

‘He got told off a lot, though. He used tell me about it when he got home.’

Even at Dulwich it was clear that Nigel was destined for the business world — Crick records him showing early financial acumen while still in school by ‘running a shoe-shining business. ‘He paid the juniors to clean shoes,’ says classmate Nick Owen, ‘and then skimmed a commission off the top.’

‘Another business involved buying and selling silver, at a time when the price was soaring’. Sure enough, after leaving Dulwich, Nigel headed not for Oxbridge, but the City, following his father’s footsteps.

One trial Barbara confesses to having rather enjoyed, however, was Nigel¿s drinking challenge with former boxer Tony Bellew

One trial Barbara confesses to having rather enjoyed, however, was Nigel’s drinking challenge with former boxer Tony Bellew

Farage in the Touchdown of Terror bushtucker trial on November 24

Farage in the Touchdown of Terror bushtucker trial on November 24

The politician gets covered in feathers and slime while collecting stars during another punishing trial

The politician gets covered in feathers and slime while collecting stars during another punishing trial

He had a goal — to be a dealer on the trading floor by the age of 21. ‘He made it,’ Barbara tells me, with a broad smile.

Today, Nigel is almost as well known for his penchant for a tipple as for his politics. He admits himself that those boozy habits were instilled in him during his time in the City.

With what some might say is a rose-tinted view only a mother could have, Barbara remembers that as a young man he would sometimes come home ‘a little worse for wear’ — but he was ‘always back on time and obeyed the rules’.

What does she think of his drinking today? ‘He doesn’t drink as much as he used to,’ she says. ‘His body can’t take it any more. He still appeals to the working man, though, and that’s a good thing.’

He also, seemingly, appeals to the younger woman — his new love Lauré is some 15 years his junior. Barbara thoroughly approves.

‘She’s lovely. She’s a chic, French lady, who is good for him,’ she says. ‘She loves him to bits. She pays him attention and always wants to be by his side.

‘When Nigel went in [to the jungle] she said: ‘I won’t be there to support him, will I?’ I think that has been hard for her.

‘She’ll survive, though. They have a nice relationship and that’s what you want for your children.

‘He has been open with me about her because we are a big family, we chatter and we gossip.’

Not that Nigel is the only Farage with a younger lover. Pottering around in the background — making Barbara a latte as we chatter — is David, Barbara’s boyfriend of a decade, who is some ten years her junior.

A well-spoken chap, originally from the Newcastle area, he confesses that he was instantly smitten by Barbara after they met in their local pub. When she tried to put him off by asking him if he knew how old she was, David tells me he replied: ‘I don’t care how old you are — you’re just lovely.’

They’ve been a couple ever since, and today, David is very much part of the Farage clan.

And the family will be all together again for Christmas, when Barbara is looking forward to spending the day with Nigel and the rest of her family.

Characteristically, the festive meal is a lively occasion. ‘Around the dinner table there are interesting discussions — we do touch on politics and even Brexit,’ says Barbara.

‘Some of the younger grandchildren have different views to us older ones, and that is very interesting indeed. But Grandma is there, so they all know how to behave!’



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