Tories urge Farage to pull Brexit Party out of Labour marginal seats
12 November 2019, 05:43 | Updated: 12 November 2019, 05:45
The Brexit Party is facing calls not to field candidates in Labour marginals after party leader Nigel Farage said he would not contest 317 Conservative seats.
On Monday Mr Farage told party supporters he would not run candidates in seats won by the Tories in the last General Election, he said it was a "difficult decision" amid fears it could lead to a hung parliament and a second referendum.
The announcement has divided opinion, with some Tories suggesting this could further muddy the waters and make it difficult for the party to increase their vote share.
The key concern is taking votes away from the Conservatives in Labour-held marginal seats.
Just one week prior to the announcement the Brexit Party leader said he had 600 potential candidates ready to “fight every seat in the country."
Speaking to party supporters in Hartlepool Mr Farage said: "I think this announcement today prevents a second referendum from happening," he said.
"And that to me, I think right now, is the single most important thing in our country. So in a sense we now have a Leave alliance, it's just that we've done it unilaterally. We've decided ourselves that we absolutely have to put country before party and take the fight to Labour."
The Prime Minister welcomed the announcement, he said it was recognition that only the Conservatives could "get Brexit done."
But, some senior Tories, including Iain Duncan Smith, urged the former Ukip leader to back off.
The ex-Conservative leader told the Sun newspaper: "It's a good start but if they want to deliver Brexit they've still got to focus on the fact that if they divide the vote they'll let Labour in.
"He's going to have to go further. This is a game of two halves - we've had the first half and now we're going to have the second half.
"The second half is where he gets to decide which seats he stands down from, and he's going to have to stand down from some of them."
Leading Tory Eurosceptic Steve Baker, said: “This is a welcome announcement but the reality is that until Boris has got a clear majority in parliament then Brexit is at risk and indeed the future of the country. I hope the right decisions will be taken overall to make that possible.”
On Twitter, Mr Farage said the announcement was aimed at ensuring there was no hung Parliament and "putting country before party."
We are putting country before party. pic.twitter.com/O2MUynSqWH— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) November 11, 2019
Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Farage said he saw "a chink of light" when he viewed the video posted on Twitter by Boris Johnson at the weekend, and with enough of his MPs in Parliament they could "keep Boris Johnson honest."
Mr Johnson said he would not extend the planned transition period beyond the end of 2020 and that he would seek a "super-Canada-plus" style free trade agreement with the EU.
"If we can win some of these seats, our presence in parliament will keep Boris Johnson honest and help to deliver Brexit.
"I have no great love for the Tories, but I can see that by giving Johnson half a chance we will prevent a second referendum. To me, that is the single most important thing for Britain. No matter how it is achieved," Mr Farage wrote.
But Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake branded the Brexit Party leader the "puppet master in Boris Johnson's Brext horror show."
Mr Brake said: "These talks show that Nigel Farage is pulling the strings behind the scenes. He is the puppet master in Boris Johnson's Brexit horror show.
"Every vote for the Conservatives is a vote for an extreme Brexit agenda backed by Nigel Farage."
Labour Party Chair, Ian Lavery insisted it was all part of an alliance with Donald Trump, Mr Lavery said: “This is a Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson alliance with Donald Trump to sell out our country and send £500 million per week from our NHS to US drugs companies.
“We urge voters to reject this Thatcherite 1980s tribute act, which would lead to more savage Tory attacks on working class communities. Our NHS is not for sale."