Populist Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage on Monday withdrew his threat to challenge the governing Conservatives at every seat in next months election, in a boost for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Instead, he promised to focus on seats held by the main opposition Labour party which voted “Leave”—although this could still see him take votes from Johnsons Tories.
“The Brexit Party will not contest the 317 seats the Conservatives won at the last election,” Farage said on the campaign trail in Hartlepool, northeast England.
The former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) had earlier promised to field 600 candidates unless Johnson agreed to abandon the exit terms he agreed with Brussels.
Farage said the deal, which has yet to be ratified by parliament, would deliver “Brexit in name only”.
But the prime minister refused and Farage has now given in, noting wryly: “In a sense we now have a Leave alliance, its just that weve done it unilaterally.”
Ignoring Tory-held seats, he promised to target Labour areas that voted for Brexit, seeking to capitalise on disillusionment with the opposition partys stance.
Labour has promised a second referendum on Brexit, a call backed by many smaller parties in the House of Commons, with the option that it could campaign to stay in the EU.
Farage said his decision “prevents a second referendum from happening. And that to me, I think right now, is the single most important thing in our country”.
Johnson welcomed the move, saying: “Im glad that theres a recognition that theres only one way to get Brexit done and thats to vote for the Conservatives.”
Im with Nigel
Farage was speaking as he campaigned in Hartlepool, a long-time Labour area that voted by 64 percent to leave the European Union in 2016.
Labours Mike Hill won the seat at the last election in 2017 with a majority of 7,650.
It was formerly represented by former Prime Minister Tony Blairs chief spin doctor-turned-EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson.
But Pat Stamper, 81, a former Labour voter attending the Brexit Party rally, told AFP: “Im with Nigel all the way. Its the only way to get out of the EU.”
Sara Hobolt, a political expert at the London School of Economics, said the decision was a boost for Johnson, tweeting: “This makes a Tory majority much more likely.”
However, the prime minister still faces difficulties.
The Conservatives won 317 out of 650 seats at the 2017 election but they go into next months vote defenRead More – Source