By Benjamin Fox
(EurActiv) — Brexit party leader Nigel Farage ruled out the prospect of a ‘Leavers Alliance’ with the Conservative party on Monday (4 November), accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party of “conceited arrogance”.
Speaking at his party’s campaign launch in Westminster on Monday, which unveiled over 600 candidates to contest the general election on 12 December, Farage said he had tried to put together a patriotic Brexit alliance” which he said would win “a massive majority”.
Last week, Farage offered an electoral pact with the Conservatives if Johnson abandoned the Brexit deal he had agreed with EU leaders in October.
That was immediately rejected by the Conservatives. If elected, Johnson has promised to push the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament before the end of the year.
“The clock is ticking and it would appear that far from attempting to embrace this offer that the Conservative party wants to shut down the argument,” said Farage, who added that “there will be no Brexit without the Brexit party.”
Farage’s party is campaigning for the UK to leave the EU and trade on World Trade Organisation terms. However. Arron Banks, the controversial financier of the Leave.EU campaign, has urged the party to support Johnson’s Brexit deal.
After comfortably topping the poll in May’s European elections, the Brexit party’s poll ratings have been significantly hit by Johnson’s election as Conservative party leader, with Leave voters now more likely to back the new prime minister.
While the Conservative party enjoys a healthy poll lead, tactical voting is likely to be crucial. Farage’s party is still on around 10%, prompting fears among Brexiteers that this will split the Brexit vote.
The First Past The Post voting system used in the UK hurts smaller parties and, without a pact with the Conservatives, would give the Brexit party a chance of victory in only a handful of seats.
Farage, who has tried and failed to secure election to Westminster eight times, will not stand for election himself.
However, Farage, whose party has heavily targeted votes in Labour’s industrial heartlands in the north of England and South Wales, made a direct pitch for what he described as the five million ‘patriotic working Labour voters’ who voted to leave the EU in June 2016, whom he described as the most “vulnerable group of voters” to the Brexit party.
Talks are ongoing between pro-Remain leaders in the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green parties with a view to striking an informal agreement to avoid splitting the pro-Remain vote, although such arrangements are likely to operate only on an ad hoc basis.
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein and the SDLP, a moderate nationalist party, agreed on Monday not to stand against each other in a handful of seats against the pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The Ulster Unionist Party has also announced its plans to run candidates in all 18 constituencies to give pro-remain unionists an alternative to the DUP.