Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit party, has said he is open to a pact with Boris Johnson’s Conservatives at the next general election if they will side with him in pursuing a no-deal Brexit.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Brexit party’s latest prospective parliamentary candidates in Westminster, Mr Farage said that leaving the EU without an agreement was “the only acceptable deal” and vowed to challenge the Tories everywhere at the next poll if they did not pursue a “clean break” with the bloc.
“If Boris Johnson does do the right thing and does go for a clean-break Brexit, then not only would we applaud that, we would want to support and help that project,” he said on Tuesday. “A Johnson government committed to doing the right thing and the Brexit party working in tandem would be unstoppable.”
“Mr Johnson, if you insisted on leaving with the withdrawal agreement we will fight you in every single seat the length and breadth of Britain,” he added.
Mr Farage did not set out what a non-aggression pact with the Tories would mean. But he said that the Brexit party had “635 approved candidates” and a full slate would contest the next election in the event of the two parties not reaching an agreement.
The Brexit party leader had previously vowed to contest every seat at any election, arguing that the Tories could not be trusted to deliver Brexit after the March 29 2019 deadline was missed. Mr Farage claimed that “the Conservative party has lost so much trust that the only way they could win a general election is with our support”.
There is increasing concern in some quarters of the Conservative party that if the Brexit party fields candidates at the next election, it will split the rightwing vote and flip seats over to Labour or the Liberal Democrats. In several recent by-elections in Leave-supporting constituencies, the Brexit party has been blamed by Tories for their defeat to left-leaning parties.
In the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election earlier this month, the Liberal Democrats won the seat from the Tories by 1,425 votes. The Brexit party garnered 3,331 votes which, had the party not existed, would have probably gone to the Conservatives and helped them win the constituency.
It was a similar outcome in Peterborough in May, when the Brexit party received 9,801 votes to come second, compared with 7,243 for the Tories, a drop of 25 per cent. Labour’s Lisa Forbes won the by-election by 683 votes.
Several Conservative MPs from the right of the party, including North West Leicestershire’s Andrew Bridgen and Andrew Rosindell in Romford, have spoken of the need for an agreement with the Brexit party to ensure there is “strategic thinking. . to bring the Leave vote together.”
But Mr Johnson has firmly ruled out any agreement with the Brexit party. Tory strategists are seeking to deliver Brexit on October 31 before holding any election, hoping that leaving the EU will kill off Mr Farage’s electoral chances.
The Brexit party came first in May’s European Parliament elections with 31 per cent of the vote. According to the most recent YouGov survey, the party is currently polling 12 per cent nationally.
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