Boris Johnson rules out electoral pact with Farage’s Brexit Party

UK prime minister rejects ‘Leave alliance’ idea, saying it risks putting Corbyn in No 10

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage urged Johnson to drop the deal he negotiated with the EU. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage urged Johnson to drop the deal he negotiated with the EU. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

 

Boris Johnson has ruled out an election pact with the Brexit Party after Nigel Farage challenged him to abandon the deal he negotiated with the European Union last month. Mr Farage said the Brexit Party would field candidates in every constituency in England, Scotland and Wales if the prime minister clung to what he called a “surrender deal”.

Mr Farage said that if the Conservatives signed up to a “Leave Alliance”, the Brexit Party would step aside in all but 150 seats.

“So I’m going to say this to Boris Johnson: drop the deal. Drop the deal, because it’s not Brexit; drop the deal because, as these weeks go by, and people discover what it is that you’ve signed up to, they will not like it,” he said.

More than two out of three of those who voted for the Brexit Party in this year’s European Parliament elections were former Conservative voters, and Mr Farage’s move could cost Mr Johnson target seats in the midlands and the north of England. But the prime minister on Friday evening defended his Brexit deal and rejected any alliance with Mr Farage.

“It is a great Brexit. It’s a proper Brexit. It delivers exactly what we wanted, what I wanted, what I campaigned in 2016 to come out of the European Union. It takes back control of our money, our borders, our laws. It enables us to do proper all-singing, all-dancing free-trade deals around the world – but as one whole United Kingdom – so it’s got everything that you could possibly want and it is ready,” he told the BBC.

“Now the difficulty about doing deals with any other party is that any other party, I’m afraid, simply risks – or voting for any other party simply risks – putting Jeremy Corbyn into No 10. And the problem with that is that his plan for Brexit is basically yet more dither and delay.”

Exceptions

Mr Farage offered to make exceptions for Conservative candidates who renounce the prime minister’s Brexit deal but he said the Brexit Party was prepared for a full-scale election campaign and would do two things if Mr Johnson rejected his offer of a Leave alliance.

“The first is to make sure that every house in this land is informed as to what is in the treaty, and what is in the political declaration, what the costs of this are, what the time implications are, to make people truly understand the extent to which this is a sell-out. And the second thing in those circumstances that we will do is we will contest every single seat in England, Scotland and Wales,” he said.

“Please don’t doubt that we are ready. Don’t underestimate our determination or our organisation. Indeed next Monday we have 500 candidates coming to London, and they will all be signing their candidate forms on that day.”

Conservative Brexiteers sharply criticised Mr Farage, accusing him of splitting the pro-Brexit vote and risking a Labour government under Mr Corbyn. Steve Baker, chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, said he was at a loss to know what Mr Farage wanted to achieve.

“The reason every Conservative Eurosceptic MP backed the deal is that it can deliver a Brexit worth having. But Boris will only negotiate a great future for the UK if he has a good majority of resolute Conservative MPs,” he said.

“Nigel now risks that and our future. It is completely inconceivable that the Conservative Party would now go for no-deal and a pact. Is Nigel a statesman or a campaigner? We are about to find out.”