Nigel Farage raged at ‘arrogant’ Boris Johnson for shunning an electoral alliance today as he unveiled 600 would-be Brexit Party MPs.
Launching the campaign in Westminster, Mr Farage vowed to take on the ‘two tribes’ of the Conservatives and Labour who had forgotten what they promisd in the 2016 referendum.
Mr Farage – who is not standing for the Commons himself – also dismissed warnings from Conservative ‘Spartans’ and former allies that he risks handing victory to Jeremy Corbyn. He insisted the only way forward with Brexit now was a ‘clean break’ from the EU.
‘They say that we will split the vote. But we will not split the vote, because we will be the only people actually offering Brexit, leaving the EU institutions,’ he said.
Slamming the Tories’ ‘conceited arrogance’ for shunning an alliance to deliver Brexit, Mr Farage effectively gave the PM 10 days to change his mind.
‘He says vote for this and get Brexit done. That is a very tempting slogan with a public who, after three and a half years of this process, in many cases have just about had enough,’ he said.
‘But the problem is that it doesn’t get Brexit done. It takes us into three more years of agonising negotiona with Michel Barnier in charge.’
The Brexit Party leader said: ‘We now have about 10 days to go before the close of nominations. The clock is ticking.
‘It would appear that far from embracing this offer … the Conservative Party wants to shut down the argument.’
As he unveiled 600 would-be Brexit Party MPs, Nigel Farage predicted the poll will result in another hung parliament
Mr Farage was acclaimed by supporters as he laid down the gauntlet to the Tories and Labour
The Brexit Party is launching its slate of candidates for the looming election today
Mr Farage ramped up rhetoric after Boris Johnson (pictured in London today) again ruled out an electoral alliance, ignoring entreaties from their mutual ally Donald Trump
Mr Farage condemned the way the ‘two big tribes of British politics are reassembling’ for the coming election.
‘For them it is all about the rosette,’ Mr Farage said.
He added: ‘Too much of what is going on in the country these days is about the Brexit Party and the Tory Party.
‘The media seems to have forgotten that five million Labour voters voted for Brexit.’
Mr Farage ramped up the rhetoric after Mr Johnson again ruled out an electoral alliance, ignoring entreaties from their mutual ally Donald Trump.
Earlier, he accused Tory Brexiteers of falling into line behind Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU like ‘good little boys’, despite the package being similar to that secured by Theresa May.
He told ITV’s GMB this morning: ‘It is likely, it is likely that we are going to have a hung parliament next time around so actually if the Brexit Party get a reasonable amount of people in there they could exert a great influence.
‘Mrs May was kept in power by 10 DUP MPs.’
Mr Farage said Labour would be his ‘number one’ target and vowed to ‘hurt’ Mr Corbyn’s party.
Tories switch Brexit clocks at party HQ
The new clock at Tory HQ
A Brexit countdown clock installed on a wall at the Conservative Party’s headquarters is now counting upwards since the UK ‘should have left the EU’.
Following an extension October 31’s Brexit deadline, a message above the clock now reads: ‘Time since we should have left the EU if Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP hadn’t blocked Brexit.’
The original timer was unveiled by Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly on July 31 and was displayed beneath a message which read: ‘We will have delivered Brexit and left the EU by.’
The digital timepiece was one of two, each believed to have cost at least £500, with the other delivered to Downing Street to be displayed in the Prime Minister’s office.
‘I led Ukip into the 2015 general election. I had all the same stuff, all the same arguments. The Tory tribe screaming and shouting, ‘Don’t take our votes’,’ he said.
‘The Ukip vote took more votes from Labour than it did from the Conservatives, (David) Cameron wouldn’t have even got a majority without Ukip.
‘We are going to hurt the Labour Party in the most extraordinary way. We’ll do it in South Wales, we’ll do it in the Midlands, we’ll do it in the north of England.
‘Those Labour voters have been completely betrayed by the Labour Party. They are my number one target. I got those votes in 2015, I’ll do it again.’
However, Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted the deal was a ‘complete Brexit’ and that Mr Farage should recognise the time had come to ‘retire from the field’.
‘I think he would be well-advised to recognise that that battle he won. He should be really proud of his political career,’ he told LBC radio.
‘It would be a great shame if he carries on fighting after he has already won to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
‘I understand why Nigel Farage would want to carry on campaigning because he has been campaigning for the best part of 30 years and it must be hard to retire from the field. But that is what he ought to do.’
At an event in Westminster later Mr Farage will introduce the hopefuls to challenge seats across the nation during the December 12 vote.
But Mr Farage, who is demanding the UK leaves the EU without a deal, revealed yesterday that he will not be standing himself.
Having lost seven previous bids to become an MP, Mr Farage insisted he could ‘serve the cause better’ by ‘traversing the length’ of the country supporting other candidates.
Brexit Party candidate quits and backs Tories
Nigel Farage is facing mounting splits in the Brexit Party today as a candidate withdrew and backed the Tories.
Dudley South hopeful Paul Brothwood has endorsed Conservative incumbent Mike Wood, a staunch Eurosceptic.
Mr Brothwood said he feared votes for the Brexit Party would only help elect a Labour-Lib Dem government.
The official Tory twitter account posted this afternoon: ‘This now former Brexit party candidate agrees – the only way to get Brexit done is to #VoteConservative on December 12th.’
There is also mounting evidence of splits in the Brexit Party itself, with the Dudley South candidate Paul Brothwood withdrawing and endorsing Tory incumbent Mike Wood, a staunch Eurosceptic.
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.
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.’
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.
Mr Farage said the Brexit Party would ‘hurt’ Labour in the most ‘extraordinary way’
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’
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 Baker 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.’