GOOD old Nigel Farage: he is a hoot, is he not? Every time he is on television, which is more often than the weather map, he is to be found chuckling away, making the Laughing Policeman look like the Rev IM Jolly.

But it turns out that Nigel, or those busy making plans for him, are very serious indeed about his portrayal in the media. Following a report by Channel 4 News into Mr Farage's finances, and in particular the £450,000 lavished on him by his  millionaire chum Arron Banks, the broadcaster has found itself banned from Brexit Party events. Shut out. Blacklisted. Given the cold pinstriped shoulder. 

Though press and politicians fall out from time to time, it is unprecedented for a British political party to hand out an extensive ban on a news organisation simply for doing its job. It is the kind of crummy, vindictive, childish stunt the Trump campaign made its own. Clearly, when Mr Farage was over visiting The Donald, his "people" picked up some rum steers on how to best handle the press. 

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One would hope other broadcasters might stand in solidarity with Channel 4 News and in turn shun The Brexit Party, but there seems precious little chance of that happening.  Mr Farage has become the drug of choice for Middle England and some broadcasters alike. As the  results of the European elections start to roll in he will only become more so. 

Ah, the European elections, the poll that the UK was not supposed to be taking part in.  The fact that we are is par for the course of how the surreal story of the UK’s relationship with the EU has played out.

Some £109 million is being spent to elect MEPs who, in theory, will never serve out their terms. But that is not the point of these elections. Quite what the point is differs depending on who is speaking. Is today’s vote a chance to re-run the EU referendum of 2016? A chance to register a protest about the failure to Brexit? A bid to halt it in its tracks?

Should people turn out in greater than usual numbers to vote – which would not be difficult for European elections – the vote could be a generalised howl into the wind, the interpretation of which is going to be fascinating.

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It has been assumed that The Brexit Party will be particularly bad news for the Conservatives and Labour in England and Wales, but that sensible Scots will be immune to Nigel Farage’s alleged charm. While it is tempting to agree, anyone who watched last week’s BBC Question Time from Elgin could scarcely ignore the pockets of hostility towards the Scottish Government and the general frustration at how Brexit had been handled by the UK Government.

European media reaction Yes, granted, the producers had done a woeful job of balancing the audience. The appearance of former Tory MSP Mary Scanlon, without anyone pointing out who she was, was the moment Question Time in Scotland jumped the shark. The team currently making the programme clearly do not know their backside from their elbow when it comes to Scottish politics, and if they cannot find people who do then it is time to pull the plug.

Biased audiences aside, it was striking that host Fiona Bruce made several attempts to find people who would speak up for the SNP. She was not exactly knocked over in the rush. Then again, there was a round of applause for John Swinney when he urged people to vote SNP in the European elections.

The Farage factor could have a more obvious impact on the Scottish Conservatives. At least Ruth Davidson will have a good excuse to offer if one is required. It wisnae me, I was on maternity leave.

Ms Davidson already shows every sign of not wanting to dwell on the past, of looking firmly towards the future. Only yesterday she declared that she could work with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. The same Mr Johnson she once seemed to regard with barely disguised disdain. Now that is Olympian-standard multitasking.

Nor will Jeremy Corbyn be able to escape the Farage factor. The Labour leader has been in denial over how his party’s Brexit policy, or rather lack of one, has come across, both in Labour seats that voted Leave and those that voted Remain. His only hope of avoiding murmurings about his own leadership lies in the expected scale of the Tory defeat.

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On that, the outlook appears grim. The omens were bad enough before the ConservativeHome website told supporters yesterday: “If May isn’t on her way out by the end of today, don’t back her in tomorrow’s European elections.” Lord Heseltine had declared earlier in the week that he would vote for the Lib Dems. Other Conservatives have since joined him.

Perhaps it is the lack of seriousness with which these elections are being viewed, but I have never come across so many people willing to take a punt with their vote, to cast a ballot in a direction they would normally never dream of taking. We are all tactical voters now. To what end, other than sending the message that Westminster must do better, we shall have to wait and see.

If Brexit has shown anything it is that there is not much of a future in the predictions game. Accepted notions about British parliamentary democracy have been turned on their heads and there could be further upset to come, for Labour as well as the Conservatives.

What we do know, however, is that the next chapter in British politics will be dominated by a Conservative leadership campaign. More months of tiresome psychodrama and navel-gazing as the Tories devour themselves once again, only to spew forth a new leader who will face a parliament with the same arithmetic.

Meanwhile, the failure to resolve Brexit continues to cost the economy billions. Uncertainty over Brexit was directly blamed yesterday for the threatened loss of 5000 jobs at British Steel, with another 20,000 at risk along the line. From farce to tragedy: this Brexit has it all, but is delivering nothing that anyone wants.