Nigel Farage vows to target five million Labour voters who backed Brexit
The Brexit Party leader brushed off Tory calls to stand aside as ‘conceited arrogance’.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has vowed to target the five million Labour voters who backed Leave in the referendum as he unveiled his party’s candidates for the General Election.
Mr Farage dismissed accusations he would split the pro-Brexit vote by running against the Tories, saying Boris Johnson’s deal was “not Brexit”.
Speaking at an event in Westminster, he accused the Conservatives of “conceited arrogance” after the Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg urged him to step aside and “leave the field”.
Mr Rees-Mogg warned he was in danger of snatching “defeat from the jaws of victory” for the campaign to leave the EU.
However, Mr Farage – who offered to work with Mr Johnson in a “patriotic alliance” if he dropped his deal with Brussels – said the Tory plan was a “sell-out”.
“We won’t split the vote because we will be the only people actually offering Brexit, leaving the European Union and its institutions,” he said.
He said that when he been the leader of Ukip, they had done “far more harm” to the Labour Party than to the Conservatives.
The Brexit Party would now be focusing, he said, on those Leave-voting Labour constituencies who were represented by pro-Remain MPs.
“Those five million are the most vulnerable group of voters to the Brexit Party in this country,” he said.
“I will be out in those Labour constituencies. I’ll be in the East Midlands, I’ll be in South Wales. I’ll be in the North East. I want the country to know the sheer extent of Labour betrayal.”
There was dismay among senior Tories after Mr Farage confirmed he intended to run candidates in more than 600 constituencies.
Mr Rees-Mogg insisted Mr Johnson’s deal represented a “complete Brexit” as he called on Mr Farage to recognise the campaign to leave the EU had been a success.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn told the weekly meeting of the shadow cabinet that Labour had enjoyed a “fantastic first few days” to the campaign.
“This election is a chance to bring our divided country back together while the Tories and the Lib Dems only seek further division,” he said.
Earlier, the Labour leader described how he had laid the law down at last week’s meeting, telling colleagues they had to accept that the party’s position on Brexit was now settled.
“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.