Brexit party will not contest 317 Tory-won seats, Farage says
Nigel Farage has said the Brexit party will not field any candidates against the Conservatives in the 317 seats they won at the last general election, after Boris Johnson committed to leaving the EU by 2020 and pursuing a Canada-style trade deal.
Farage said his party’s climbdown came after months of trying to create a leave alliance with the Tories, but it was time to put the country before the party and make a “unilateral” move.
As he spelled out his general election strategy, Farage said he had concluded that if the Brexit party had stood a candidate in every seat it could split the vote and usher in dozens of Liberal Democrat MPs and, in turn, create the circumstances for a second referendum.
He said: “The Brexit party will not contest the 317 seats the Conservatives won at the last election. We will concentrate our total effort into all the seats that are held by the Labour party, who have completely broken their manifesto pledge in 2017 to respect the result of the referendum, and we will also take on the rest of the remainer parties. We will stand up and fight them all.”
He said this strategy was reliant on Johnson sticking to his promises on delivering Brexit, and getting Brexit party MPs into parliament to keep the pressure on him.
“We are going to keep saying: remember you told us we were leaving at the end of 2020.
“Remember you told us we’re not going to have political alignment. He will know, just as Mrs May’s vote disappeared in the European elections of this year, the same will happen again if a British prime minister breaks firm commitments and promises made to the British people.
“I have got no great love for the Conservative party at all, but I can see right now that by giving Boris half a chance … and stopping the fanatics in the Liberal Democrats – they even want to revoke the result of the referendum – I think our action, our announcement today prevents a second referendum from happening.”
Farage said he had been reassured after Johnson said he would not accept an extension of the transition period for Britain leaving the EU beyond the end of 2020.
The prime minister has also said he will negotiate a “super Canada-plus” trade deal with no political alignment, which is closer to what leave voters want.
Some people in the audience sighed when the decision was announced. However, a local supporter called Dave Paul, said he trusted Farage’s decision: “He’s Mr Brexit. We are right behind Nigel.”
Kate Proctor and Graeme Wearden