NZ election 2020: Exclusive interview with Bad Boys of Brexit working with Winston Peters

Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore have spent years polarising Britain's political landscape and peeving off the establishment, and they're bloody proud of it. 

They call themselves 'The Bad Boys of Brexit'. 

Now their controversial, un-PC style is on its way to New Zealand, and will form a vital part of Winston Peters' campaign to get his party vote to 15 percent. 

Despite Banks being Britain's biggest ever political donor, he says he's not giving money to NZ First, instead the party is paying them to be political advisors.

"There's a contract in place where we're hired to do the social media and give a bit of advice and it's just a plain vanilla commercial deal," he told Newshub in an exclusive interview at his Bristol estate. 

"We're not donating money, we're just offering advice," he says. "I haven't donated money to any New Zealand entity and nor would I".

The pair are notorious in the UK for being the driving force behind Brexit, and convincing the country to leave the European Union. 

They've thrown their weight behind Nigel Farage, UKIP, the Brexit Party, and more recently Boris Johnson. The deal with Peters was agreed a few months ago in Auckland. 

Banks was in New Zealand to see his son who's currently doing a cricket exchange at King's College. The lockdown meant he was stuck there for 2 months, so he met with Winston Peters on numerous occasions and over a few whiskeys, agreed to work together. 

"He [Winston] reaches out to the working class, ordinary people who are perhaps a bit more conservative that the shabbily sipping classes of Auckland that sit around with their woke sort of attitudes," Banks says. 

"Winston is a very unique politician. There's not many of them in the world. Boris is definitely one of them. Nigel Farage is one of them, and dare I say it, Donald Trump. They speak fluent human," says Wigmore, a former Belize diplomat and seasoned strategist.

Lloyd Burr interviewed the pair at Bank's sprawling country estate near Bristol
Lloyd Burr interviewed the pair at Bank's sprawling country estate near Bristol Photo credit: Newshub.

Even though Peters is in coalition with Labour, and has to work with the Greens, the election campaign will see NZ First publicly slandering and targeting their current bedfellows. 

"You need a Winston Peters to put the handbrake on excesses," Wigmore says, claiming most New Zealanders are terrified of a radical, majority Labour government.. 

A taster of what's about to come is the way the pair talk about Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.

"Jacinda is very popular but her party's very unpopular, says Banks. So they've come up with a new name for Labour: Jacinderella and the Ugly Sisters. 

"And Winston is Prince Charming," laughs Wigmore. 

They'll also attack the National Party too, which they call a "finishing school for failed politicians" after the string of resignations and numerous leadership spills. 

"The National party is just not fit for government right now. You've got a situation where you've got a two horse race and one of the horses has got three legs and frankly just keeps shooting them off," says Banks. 

As for new leader Judith Collins, they says she's trying to channel popular but divisive former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - but will fail. 

"I don't think she has empathy. Watching her, she doesn't have that empathy which you need, says Wigmore. 

"She reminds me a little bit of your mother in law that comes over for Sunday lunch that you don't want to be exposed to for too long. The more you see of her, the less you like of her," adds Banks. 

The pair dismiss claims from reports in the UK that they're sending a "a crack team of 6 political operatives" to New Zealand for the campaign. Peters also says that's not the case.

"We have two people working for us who are Kiwis, who are brilliant at what they do. They know exactly what's going on," says Wigmore. 

"We've got a hell of a track record on social media. New Zealand politics isn't so different to UK politics where you've got two big parties and an insurgent one in the middle," Banks says. 

New Zealand First's campaign will be intentionally designed to cause outrage and disagreement in the political establishment and commentariate. Their modus operandi is that conflict and controversy will get coverage, and support from the silent majority. 

"The left still hate us because they want to impose their agenda even though it keeps getting defeated at the ballot box," says Banks, referring to British Labour and the Remain campaign. 

Peters' image and public persona will also be refined, with the pair wanting him to relax more often. 

"What we want to encourage Winston to do is bring a bit of fun into politics. It's been dreadfully dull and predictable. I think he'll get rewarded for having a bit of fun," Banks says. 

Lloyd Burr is Newshub's Europe Correspondent based in London. 

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