A Brexit Party candidate has branded Nigel Farage’s tactical decision not to contest Tory-held seats to avoid splitting the Leave vote as a “disgrace to politics”.
Robert Wheal was due to fight in the Arundel and South Downs constituency but was stood down as the seat is currently held by the Conservatives.
In a series of angry tweets in the wake of Mr Farage’s announcement on Monday, Mr Wheal said the Brexit Party leader was putting himself ahead of the country.
“It’s putting Nigel before the country. He will go down in infamy, letting down so many good people with whom he sought their trust. He is finished as a politician.”
He added: “All that Farage has exposed is his duplicity to so many supporters who had put their faith in him.”
All that Farage has exposed is his duplicity to so many supporters who had put their faith in him. He and you are a disgrace to politics! https://t.co/fqKBtT3Wk4— Robert Wheal - Brexit For Democratic Reform (@RobertWheal) November 11, 2019
Mr Wheal said Leave supporters could “kiss goodbye” to Brexit following the decision and vowed to spoil his ballot paper.
Speaking to LBC radio on Tuesday morning, he said: “My aim has always been to get out of Europe. Clean break.”
He added: “I’ve always been very critical of the (Brussels) regime.
“It’s unelected, as you all know. It spends our money as it sees fit – wastes most of it.
“It was made very clear to us all at the first Brexit Party rally that we will put country before party and that, if Farage managed to arrange a deal with Boris Johnson that he would agree to drop his rotten Withdrawal Agreement and take on a no-deal, we would all stand down and support him.
“But what we have here is absolute codswallop.”
He continued: “Farage hasn’t even got a deal. This was a golden opportunity to get Brexit. The Tories aren’t offering Brexit. They’re offering ‘Brino’ – Brexit in name only.”
Mr Wheal said the current Withdrawal Agreement is a “classic Brussels trap”.
He denied that splitting the Leave vote risked a second referendum, describing it as “just more Remainer Project Fear”.
“Half the Brexit Party supporters have worked their socks off for that party and he’s dropped them like a stone at 12 o’clock yesterday,” he said.
His outburst comes in the wake of the former Brexit Party candidate for Harlow’s decision to stand as an independent Brexiteer.
Neil Greaves said the Brexit Party leader had been “outmanoeuvred” and encouraged his fellow candidates to follow his example.
The 52-year-old told the PA news agency: “Nigel has let Brexiteers down … he should be standing up for the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit.
“I don’t regard Boris Johnson’s deal as Brexit. It’s not even close.
“Farage has been totally outmanoeuvred and out-negotiated without Boris (Johnson) even having to say anything.”
The Essex constituency voted 68% to leave in the EU referendum, while Conservative Robert Halfon, who won the seat by more than 7,000 votes in 2017, opted for Remain.
Mr Greaves described Mr Halfon as a “Remainer” and said pulling out of the race would mean there “won’t be a Leave option for Harlow”.
Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips tweeted that she was “disenfranchised” by the decision, and said she would not be voting at all in the election.
She posted: “I will be one of millions of people who will not vote at all in the General Election.
“That breaks my heart. I have voted in every election since I was 18 and been involved in politics for over a decade. And I have been disenfranchised by my own party.”
Those who can vote @brexitparty_uk MUST. We have done what is politically necessary albeit totally galling to stave off the greatest electoral threat to Brexit: a Remain coalition. Those who want full fat freedom and who can vote Brexit Party must do it to beat the Duopoly— Alexandra Phillips (@BrexitAlex) November 12, 2019
Asked by PA why other Brexit Party supporters deprived of a candidate should still vote, she said: “It’s up to voters how they wish to vote.
“I’m not going to turn around and say ‘Vote for this party, vote for that party’ – I would always say ‘Vote for my own party’ which, in certain seats, can’t happen now.”
She added: “So, whether people now abstain from voting, or vote for the Conservatives or vote for whomever they wish, that is entirely up to them. Essentially what we have done is try and manage the electoral threat of those who want to reverse Brexit altogether.
“We are not by any stretch saying ‘Boris Johnson is a fantastic Prime Minister and what he is offering is perfect’.”
“This is an attack on the Liberal Democrats and by no means an endorsement of Boris Johnson.”
Fellow Brexit Party candidate Ruth Jolley also said she “respected” Mr Farage’s decision but was “disappointed” that the people of her South West Norfolk constituency will not be able to vote for a Brexit Party candidate.
“For me the Brexit Party was about more than Brexit,” she told PA.
“It was a chance to change politics for good and shake up our institutions.”
The former civil servant, who now runs a pet care business, said she will continue to campaign for Brexit Party candidates elsewhere but will not vote in the election.
“I couldn’t vote for those who are standing in my constituency in all good conscience,” she said.
“I couldn’t vote for (local Conservative candidate and Cabinet minister) Liz Truss because I do think the Tories have negotiated a terrible deal.”
Selection announcement! I am delighted to have been selected to stand against Jeremy Corbyn in Islington North. This will give me the opportunity to challenge him on his ludicrous brexit policy as well as Antisemitism in his party 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/DKR44ZiLkJ— Yosef David (@YosefDavid9) November 11, 2019
Elsewhere, a Brexit Party candidate due to stand in Hendon, north-west London, has been moved to fight Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North constituency.
Yosef David, who is Jewish, said he was “delighted” to be fighting the seat, adding: “This will give me the opportunity to challenge him on his ludicrous Brexit policy as well as anti-Semitism in his party.”