Boris Johnson’s Tories have been gifted an early Christmas present by Nigel Farage as the Brexit Party leader announced hundreds of candidates won’t fight the December 12 general election.
Farage’s decision to withdraw 317 Brexit Party candidates from Conservative held constituencies is a major climb down for the arch-Brexiteer and a huge boost for the Tories.
Farage called the move a “unilateral Leave alliance” to remove the risk of splitting the pro-Brexit vote in Conservative seats and said his party will instead “concentrate our total effort” on constituencies held by Labour and remain supporting parties in the general election.
“We will stand up and fight them all,” said Farage, who has been widely mocked with his announcement in Hartlepool today coming little more than a week after he told the Sunday Times the prime minister’s new deal with the EU “stinks” and was categorically “not Brexit.”
‘Dancing to Trump’s tune’
Labour’s David Lammy tweeted: “Nigel Farage bottling it by standing down in Tory seats shows how vital it is for Remainers to cooperate.”
Lammy, who is standing for re-election in Tottenham, continued: “We cannot allow this hard right alliance between Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage – dancing to the tune of Donald Trump – to permanently wreck our country.”
‘Vote might still be split,’ warns Tory chairman
James Cleverly, the Tory chairman told BBC news: “I welcome the recognition that the Brexit Party do risk actually preventing a stable majority government.
“There is still of course the danger that in a number of seats, that it looks as if they might still stand, those are exactly the seats that could potentially have voted Conservative and the vote might still be split and we still end up with an MP who is going to frustrate the Brexit process.”
Johnson tweeted: ”If we have another hung Parliament it would lead to two more chaotic referendums next year. The Conservatives only need 9 more seats to win a majority and leave by the end of January with a deal.”
Greens give SNP boost
The remain Alliance announced last week between the Liberal Democrats, Green Part and Plaid Cymru has extended – in sorts – north of the border with the Scottish Green Party (SGP) announcing it will not contest two very marginal seats held by the anti-Brexit Scottish National Party (SNP) – North East Fife which was won in 2017 by just two votes; and Perth & North Perthshire which the SNP held by 21 votes in 2017.
The Lib Dems are fighting to win back the North East Fife seat and the Tories are battling to topple the SNPs in Perth & North Perthshire.