Nigel Farage fears he has been the victim of an assassination attempt after his car was sabotaged, causing a terrifying motorway crash.
The Ukip leader careered off a French road after a wheel on his Volvo came loose while he was driving from Brussels back to his home in Kent.
When the police arrived at the scene, they told him that the nuts on all of the wheels had been deliberately unscrewed, The Mail on Sunday has established.
'Target': Nigel Farage claims he was the victim of an assassination attempt, after he careered off a French road when a wheel on his Volvo came loose while he was driving back to his home in Kent (pictured)
Mr Farage, who has received death threats during his tumultuous time as leader, last night spoke about the ‘frightening’ incident, which took place near Dunkirk.
‘It was the middle of bloody nowhere, and I was caught in a very bad position,’ he said. ‘There was a huge section of roadworks with cars going back and forth on the same side of the carriageway. I suddenly realised I was losing steering but there was no hard shoulder to pull on to. I slowed down, put the hazards on and then one of the wheels came off. I jumped over the wall as quickly as I bloody well could to get away from lorries and everything.’
When the emergency services arrived, they told a shaken Mr Farage that he had been the victim of a malicious act. ‘The French police looked at it and said that sometimes nuts on one wheel can come a bit loose – but not on all four,’ Mr Farage said.
When he was asked who he thought might have been responsible, Mr Farage replied: ‘I haven’t got a clue. Quite frankly, the way my life’s been over the past two-and-a-half years, nothing surprises me.’
Quite frankly, the way my life’s been over the past two-and-a-half years, nothing surprises me.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage
The crash, which took place in daylight at the end of October, has been kept under wraps by Mr Farage until now. He agreed to talk about it this weekend after being contacted by this newspaper.
Mr Farage’s Volvo V70 comes with a single locking nut on each wheel, which should be immune from interference. But if the other four nuts are loosened, then the remaining one is likely to sheer off as soon as the car is travelling at speed.
The Ukip leader has been embroiled in a series of poisonous feuds within his party over recent years, both in London and in the European Parliament, where he sits as an MEP.
The Parliament splits its operations between the Belgian capital Brussels and the French city of Strasbourg. Mr Farage frequently drives himself to his offices in the parliament buildings from Kent because he says it is the easiest way to juggle his ‘mad’ schedule. For security reasons, Mr Farage would not say where he parks his vehicle in Brussels.
Getaway: Mr Farage was forced to leap over the barrier of the motorway near Dunkirk to escape from speeding lorries, as pictured in this reconstruction
Malicious: The Ukip leader has received previous death threats during his time at the head of the party
Mr Farage said he had not asked police to pursue the investigation because he didn’t want to ‘make anything of it’. When asked if he had received death threats, Mr Farage said: ‘Of course. It’s not a particularly easy game, this.’
He added: ‘The French police and mechanics looked at it but I have made no formal report in this country. The mechanics were absolutely certain of [foul play] but I have decided to take no further action.’
Mr Farage has endured a torrid time recently, with senior Ukip figures expressing concern that the party is losing momentum in the wake of its disappointing Election result, when it won only Douglas Carswell’s Clacton seat. Last month, Mr Carswell said the party needed a ‘fresh face’ as leader – only to be told to ‘put up or shut up’ by Mr Farage.
Last night, Eric Fouard, the prosecutor for Dunkirk, said he was not aware of any investigation into the accident involving Mr Farage.
No wonder he's considering a TV career move...
The Ukip leader is considering a new career as a television presenter if he leaves politics after the EU referendum.
Mr Farage has been involved in discussions with production companies about fronting a three-part series on military strategy, including a history of the First World War. News of Mr Farage’s talks has been spread with glee by his growing number of critics in the party, who argue that Ukip needs a fresh leader to reinvigorate it.
Last night, a spokesman for Mr Farage said that the idea of him fronting programmes had been ‘bubbling away’ since early last year – when the TV companies were first contacted – but no deals had yet been struck.
Last night, ex-Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom, who once shared a flat with Mr Farage in Brussels, said he could see why the party leader would be interested in presenting a military history series.
Mr Bloom said: ‘We have done military tours together. Nigel is a very good raconteur, “Corporal Snoops manning the machine-gun at the bridge… here’s the spot he won his VC”, that sort of thing.’
A spokesman for Mr Farage said: ‘The TV thing is an idea that has been bubbling away for a while. He’d be bloody good at it – and it was discussed last year. But no deal has been done.’