Nigel Farage says he will ‘hurt the Labour vote’ in General Election
Senior Tories have warned that the Brexit Party risk splitting the Leave vote if they run against the Conservatives.
Nigel Farage has said his Brexit Party will hurt Labour in “the most extraordinary way” in the forthcoming General Election.
Mr Farage has been accused by furious Tories of putting Brexit at risk with his plans to run candidates in more than 600 constituencies in the poll on December 12.
The Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg warned the Brexit Party leader was in danger of snatching “defeat from the jaws of victory” if he persisted with his plan.
However Mr Farage – who was previously the leader of Ukip – said that his “number one target” would be Labour Leave voters who had been “completely betrayed” by their party.
“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 told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
“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.”
Boris Johnson last week rejected Mr Farage’s offer of a pact with the Tories if he dropped his Brexit deal.
Mr Farage, who even won support from US president Donald Trump for his proposal of and alliance, argued the Prime Minister’s agreement with Brussels did not represent a true break with the EU.
However Mr Rees-Mogg insisted the deal was a “complete Brexit” and that Mr Farage should recognise the time had come to “retire from the field”.
He risks being the man who hands Boris a weak and indecisive parliament, bringing about his own worst fears Steve Baker on Nigel Farage
“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.”
Mr Farage also came under fire from Steve Baker, the leader of the pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group, who warned he risked another hung parliament through “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 Daily Telegraph.
Mr Farage, who is set to unveil his party’s candidates at an event on Monday in London, defended his decision not to stand himself in the election.
“I did have a serious go in 2015. I finished up spending way too much of my time in that constituency and not out around the country. I’m not making that mistake again,” he said.
Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn has told his warring shadow cabinet the debate over Labour’s position on Brexit is over.
The party says it will seek to negotiate a new deal with Brussels which it would then put to the public in a new referendum.
A number of senior figures, including shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, have suggested they would campaign for Remain in that referendum.
However, Mr Corbyn said he had made clear at last week’s meeting of the shadow cabinet that any decision would wait until after the election.
“I just said, ‘Look, this debate is now over. We’ve done it, the party has now made its decision, and that’s it; and that’s what we’re going to campaign on’,” he told The Guardian.
Mr Corbyn also said he had made a unilateral decision to back Mr Johnson’s decision to go for a December election, despite the objections of some colleagues including chief whip Nick Brown.
“I didn’t alert anybody in advance – it was my decision. On my own. I made that decision. And they gulped, and said ‘Yes Jeremy,’” he said.