Nigel Farage to unveil his electoral threat to the Tories over Brexit
Nigel Farage is set to unveil his threat to the Tories when he reveals the 600 candidates who could split the Leave vote and scupper Boris Johnson’s chances of electoral victory.
The Brexit Party leader has tried and failed to get a hardline Brexit alliance with the Prime Minister, even despite garnering the blessing of their mutual ally Donald Trump for the move.
But, while ruling out running as an MP himself, Mr Farage will at an event in Westminster on Monday introduce the hopefuls to challenge seats across the nation during the December 12 vote.
The MEP, who demands leaving the EU without a deal, said he could “serve the cause better traversing the length” of the country than himself running – and potentially failing – as an MP for an eighth time.
The unveiling comes after the PM apologised to the Tory members who elected him leader for failing on his “do-or-die” promise to implement Brexit by Halloween.
Mr Johnson said he feels “deep regret” over missing the former deadline, which he was compelled to extend to the end of January.
So adamant was the PM that he would meet the last Brexit deadline, he said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than miss it. That date passed on Thursday.
In an interview with Sky’s Ridge on Sunday, he was told he needed to take responsibility and could not just blame other people.
“Well, I do. I do and I’m deeply, deeply disappointed,” the PM replied.
Pushed on whether he would apologise to Tory members who supported him, Mr Johnson replied: “Of course, of course.
“It’s a matter of … it’s a matter of deep regret.”
Mr Johnson also said he can see “no reason whatsoever” about why the UK should extend the Brexit transition period beyond December 2020, adding: “If you get the right Parliament anything’s possible.”
Whether the Brexit Party succeeds in getting any MPs elected or not, Tories fear the party could play a major role in splitting the Leave vote.
The Conservatives have rejected his offer of an electoral pact, and Mr Farage on Sunday ruled out standing in a constituency himself.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I’ve thought very hard about this – how do I serve the cause of Brexit best, because that’s what I’m doing this for.
“Not for a career, I don’t want to be in politics for the rest of my life.
“Do I find a seat to try get myself into parliament or do I serve the cause better traversing the length and breadth of the United Kingdom supporting 600 candidates, and I’ve decided the latter course is the right one.”
In a move likely to rile the proponent of a no-deal departure, senior Treasury minister Rishi Sunak failed to deny suggestions the threat was being removed from the Tory manifesto.
Steve Baker, the chair of the European Research Group band of hardline Tory Brexiteers, warned that Mr Farage is risking creating a hung Parliament by “dogmatically pursuing purity”.
“That’s the irony of Nigel Farage. He risks being the man who hands Boris a weak and indecisive Parliament, and bringing about, therefore, his own worst fears,” Mr Farage told the Telegraph.
On the opposite side of the Brexit spectrum, the Lib Dems were not ruling out forming a Remain electoral alliance in up to 60 seats to boost the chances of preventing a Conservative majority.
Talks have been under way between the unequivocally pro-EU parties of the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to boost the chances of electing anti-Brexit MPs.
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson told Sky: “I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the numbers are accurate.
“I think it’s fair to say that in the vast majority of constituencies the party of Remain that is going to be best-placed to win that seat will be the Liberal Democrats.”
Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey confirmed that the party could campaign to leave the EU in a second referendum if it secures a strong enough new Brexit deal from Brussels.
“Ultimately underpinning our final decision is how good that deal is,” the shadow business secretary told Sky.