NIGEL Farage was last night told by his biggest donor that he has “48 hours to save Brexit” — by pulling candidates from crucial Tory target seats.
Arron Banks pleaded with his close friend to fight for just 40 Labour-held seats to ensure Boris Johnson can get the win he needs to lead Britain out of the EU by January 31.
Mr Banks told Mr Farage, who he has bankrolled for five years, that such a move would “go down as the most selfless act by a British party leader in political history”.
Candidates have to hand in, or withdraw, their nomination papers by 4pm tomorrow.
Meanwhile a handful of Brexit Party candidates added to the pressure on Mr Farage by telling The Sun they feared his pledge to stand in 300 seats could rob Mr Johnson of a majority. One said: “Let’s focus our efforts on just a handful of seats.”
But Mr Farage looked set to plough ahead. And Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice even warned they were more likely to reverse their decision to withdraw from Tory seats than help Mr Johnson further.
On Tuesday night a YouGov Poll for The Times showed that in the 317 seats where the Brexit Party was withdrawing, its voters were switching overwhelmingly to the Tories.
It put them on 42 per cent, with Labour on 28 and the Lib Dems on 15.
On Friday Mr Banks, also one of the biggest financiers of the Brexit campaign, will launch a major tactical voting database called #Unite2Leave to advise supporters how to use their election vote most effectively.
He has produced lengthy analysis of the seats Mr Farage should plough all of the Brexit Party’s resources into — seats where the Tories have no chance of winning.
He told The Sun: “Nigel has remade the Conservative Party in his own image. The Conservative Party is the Brexit Party.”
He added: “There are 48 hours to save Brexit and save the country from a Corbyn government.
“Nigel reminds me of a gambler at a casino that’s been winning all night and it’s time to take the chips off the table and step away.
“It’s time to smash Labour in 40 or so seats where the Tories are nowhere, win five-to-ten seats and have some real clout in the new Parliament.”
On the Conservatives, Mr Banks said: “Of the 60 Tory MPs standing down 58 are Remainers including all nearly of the prominent anti-Brexiteers. The swamp is draining itself.
“We have a PM who led the official leave campaign and that will return to Westminster with a Majority to deliver Brexit.”
‘GET ON THE ROAD’
But Mr Farage declared: “Three hundred nominations have been signed off — time to get on the road.”
Asked by The Sun if he would heed Mr Banks’ words, he replied: “The Conservatives have had three months to save Brexit.
“I’ve offered a really generous Leave alliance. I made a magnanimous gesture yesterday and they’re not prepared to give a thing.
“They’d rather lose Brexit than do a deal with me. They are putting party before country.”
He even accused Mr Banks of “selling out” to the Tory party, blasting: “I don’t know what he’s sold out for but perhaps we’ll find out one day.”
Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice told The Sun: “We’re not doing any more. We’re frankly more likely to reverse the decision than we are to grant another bunch of seats.
“We are where we are, we’re very comfortable with the decision — it’s the right decision.”
Tory polling guru Lord Hayward said Mr Farage may be determined to maintain the number of his candidates simply to keep a share of TV time allocated to each party.
He told the BBC: “The last election, it’s worth bearing in mind that UKIP fielded just over 300 candidates and it was along the same lines of making sure that they qualified under certain circumstances.
“When one’s looking at results in some constituencies there were no UKIP candidates last time so it’ll be a repeat again.”
And Suzanne Evans, Mr Farage’s former deputy at Ukip, said: “Nigel is now back in the parliamentary fray. He probably won’t want to miss his opportunity of having a broadcast.
“But the reason he isn’t standing is because he doesn’t think he can win any seats. He’s got the pick of any constituency to stand in and he’s chosen none.
“That tells him he doesn’t think he can win and if he can’t win despite his high profile who can win? The answer is no-one.”
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Speaking in the West Midlands today, Mr Johnson will up the stakes in the fight against Mr Corbyn by contrasting his vision for a post-Brexit Britain to Mr Corbyn’s “horror show” of holding two referendums on Brexit and Scottish independence.
The PM is expected to say: “The UK is admired and respected around the world but people are baffled by our debate on Brexit and they cannot understand how this great country can squander so much time and energy on this question and how we can be so hesitant about our future.
“If we can get a working majority we can get parliament working for you, we can get out of the rut. We can end the groundhoggery of Brexit…
“We face a historic choice. At this election the country can either move forwards with policies that will deliver years of growth and prosperity, or it can disappear into an intellectual cul-de-sac of far left Corbynism.”
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