Nigel Farage is under growing pressure to stand down his candidates from next month’s election.
A string of Mr Farage’s candidates are leading calls for him to pull back.
Nigel Farage (pictured in Pontypool in south Wales on Friday) is under growing pressure to stand down his candidates from next month’s election
Writing in this newspaper, the former Brexit Party hopeful in the battleground seat of Workington begs colleagues to copy his decision to withdraw.
Philip Walling said not doing so could help deny Boris Johnson a majority and increase the ‘hideous’ prospect of Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn in No 10.
He says: ‘I plead with every other Brexit candidate to do what I have done: examine your conscience in the cold light of reason. And if you think you risk splitting the Tory vote, and so damaging the best chance of Brexit that Britain has got, then for God’s sake – stand down.’
A growing number of Mr Farage’s associates and donors – including his ally Arron Banks – have also launched a revolt against his refusal to call an election truce with the Tories.
A major YouGov poll of 11,500 voters shows the Brexit Party presents a serious threat to Mr Johnson’s hopes.
Although Labour support is collapsing across the country, the Brexit Party is polling as high as 19 per cent in some regions.
Analysis of polling figures last week found that the Brexit Party could make a crucial difference in almost 90 Tory target seats. In 38 of those, Mr Johnson could snatch victory from Labour if 70 per cent of those planning to vote for Mr Farage switched to the Conservatives.
Yesterday’s YouGov poll reinforced those findings, showing that the Brexit Party is recording high poll ratings in a string of regions.
In the North East, it is on 19 per cent, up from the 4 per cent that Ukip recorded at the 2017 snap general election.
The predicted Tory vote share has fallen in every region since 2017 but the poll is most disastrous for Labour, with its support collapsing across the country.
In Yorkshire and Humber, the predicted Labour vote share is now just 29 per cent, compared with 49 per cent in 2017. Nigel Evans, the Tory candidate for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, said: ‘The danger in the North West and North East will be where a Brexit candidate steals sufficient votes to allow the Remain candidate to win.
‘A number of Brexit candidates have already decided they know the strategy is not working, they know the dangers, and they don’t want to lose Brexit.
‘Yet that is exactly what Nigel Farage’s strategy could do.’
Yesterday, another former Brexit Party candidate – Peter Udale, who was due to stand in the Cotswolds – quit and urged voters in his area to back the Tories instead.
He said: ‘By far the biggest threat that currently faces this country is a government led by Jeremy Corbyn. If he got into No 10, he would undermine our economy, our defence and our union.
‘I therefore believe it is fundamentally wrong for the Brexit Party, which is strongly patriotic and has a deep allegiance to our union, to stand candidates in constituencies where the Tories have a chance of winning.’
A growing number of Mr Farage’s (pictured in Newport, Wales, on Friday) associates and donors – including his ally Arron Banks – have also launched a revolt against his refusal to call an election truce with the Tories
Professor Matthew Goodwin from the University of Kent said Mr Farage risked ‘damaging his legacy’ by taking votes from the Tories.
Speaking on the Daily Telegraph’s Brexit Podcast, he said: ‘I don’t think they will win any MPs … Nigel Farage clearly has to ask himself a question at this point – does he want to go down in British history as the most influential politician not elected to Westminster who effectively brought about Brexit?
‘Or does he potentially want to go down in history as the guy who attracted 5 to 7 per cent at the election and cost Boris Johnson and the Conservatives an election victory and by extension brought down Brexit. This is the fundamental choice facing both Farage and the Brexit Party.’
Multi-millionaire Mr Banks, who campaigned with Mr Farage under the Leave.EU banner during the 2016 referendum, said: ‘Like everything in life, what is the point of doing something if you can’t win?
‘He risks splitting the vote and letting a Lib Dem through the middle to win – a party which wants to cancel Brexit altogether.’
November 14 is the deadline for candidates to decide whether or not to stand.
To all my Brexit Party colleagues – for the good of the nation, stand aside: ‘Workington Man’ candidate PHILIP WALLING urges others to do the same as him
by Philip Walling
Every Brexit Party candidate preparing to stand in the General Election faces a soul-wrenching decision.
All ardently want the result of the EU referendum to be honoured – but by contesting a seat against a Tory they risk seeing the opposite happen.
I do not say this lightly.
Until a few days ago, I was a Brexit Party candidate in Workington, the Cumbrian town where I was born.
Traditionally Labour and more recently strongly Leave, the constituency epitomises this monumental General Election battle. If Boris Johnson is to achieve anything close to a Commons majority, he must win seats such as this.
Every Brexit Party candidate preparing to stand in the General Election faces a soul-wrenching decision, according to Philip Walling (pictured)
For some time, I wrestled with my conscience.
I felt intensely proud to be standing for Parliament in a constituency in which I have deep roots: my great-great-uncle played cricket for Workington and I still have his presentation bat from the 1883 season.
So when the party told me this week that, despite my long family history in Workington, it wanted to move me to stand in the neighbouring Conservative seat of Copeland, my misgivings about the party splitting the vote became too troubling to dismiss.
That is why my decision to resign my candidacy has been the most difficult I have ever made. And it is why, more in sorrow than in anger, I urge all other Brexit Party prospective MPs: please think deeply and objectively about what you are doing.
Ask yourself if, by standing, you risk siphoning votes away from the only party that can realistically hope to deliver any kind of Brexit – the Conservatives.
Ask yourself, too, how you would live with the shame and guilt if, as a result of your idealistic intervention, you ended up putting Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, perhaps at the head of a shabby coalition of socialists, Lib Dems, Scottish and Welsh nationalists and Greens. In the worst-case scenario, the Brexit Party could split the Tory vote so Corbyn and his bully-boy puppet-master John McDonnell would be handed power outright.
A Labour government would not only halt Brexit permanently, it would plunge this country into an economic nightmare. I cannot imagine anything more hideous.
That is why I was so torn. My heart urged me to stand up for the sort of Brexit I believe is best for Britain: a clean break from the corrupt EU.
But my head tells me that if we don’t compromise and back Johnson’s flawed deal, we will be shackled to the EU until it collapses and dies – probably dragging us with it.
I felt I had no choice but to send the message: ‘Back Boris. A vote for the Brexit Party is a vote for Corbyn.’ It was a long way from the time when, full of hope, I put myself forward to the newly formed Brexit Party in May as a potential candidate.
I was up for the challenge, having worked as a farmer, barrister and author. And I understood Cumbrian culture, which is more than Nigel Farage seems to do.
We’re a reserved lot in Workington: we tend to be suspicious of enthusiasm, and we see through flattery and flannel. At a recent rally here, Mr Farage – more used to fanfare and standing ovations – may have been bemused to have been greeted in a packed hall by restrained applause.
Perhaps, like many politicians, he didn’t appreciate such frankness. The people in that room were waiting to be impressed. They wouldn’t dream of giving their full support until he and his candidates had earned it.
Then, once given – as it used to be for the Labour Party up here – it would have been his for life.
Those honest men and women will be no more impressed than I am that Mr Farage himself has decided not to stand as an MP.
A leader should lead from the front. To hide at the back is an admission that he cannot win and fears humiliation. This is dispiriting to the millions who support Brexit and whose vote he seeks.
Mr Farage claims that 5 million former Labour voters will desert Corbyn on December 12. An outright Labour victory, he believes, is impossible even if the Brexit Party splits the Tory vote. But he’s wrong. On doorsteps in Workington, I spoke to many older Labour traditionalists who said they couldn’t stomach Corbyn’s tacit support for Remain, his destructive far-Left economic policies, his support for terrorists or the disgusting way his party has become mired in anti-Semitism.
I fear, however, that when these constituents get to the polling stations, old habits will be too strong.
Writing this has caused me agonies. It isn’t the way I wanted my new life in politics to end.
But I plead with every other Brexit candidate to do what I have done: examine your conscience in the cold light of reason. And if you think you risk splitting the Tory vote, then for God’s sake – stand down.