Farage boost for Boris in pledge not to fight Tory seats
Pointing to the future: Nigel Farage made an election pledge (pic: Terry Murden)
Nigel Farage today handed Boris Johnson a huge election boost by declaring that the Brexit Party will not fight any Tory-held seats.
The Brexit Party leader announced that he was ‘putting country before party’ and only fighting Remain constituencies, principally the Labour seats.
The intervention amounts to a partial retreat – with 317 Conservative candidates now getting a free run on 12 December.
Mr Farage told a rally in Hartlepool: “The Brexit Party will not contest the 317 seats the Conservatives won at the last election.
“What we will do is concentrate our total effort into all of the seats that are held by the Labour Party, who have completely broken their manifesto pledge in 2017 to respect the result of the referendum.
“And we will also take on the rest of the Remainer parties. We will stand up and fight them all. So we are not going to fight 600 seats.”
Mr Farage said he had, in effect, unilaterally formed a “Brexit Alliance” with the Tories.
“I think our action today prevents a second referendum from happening,” he said.
Mr Johnson welcomed the change of plan by Mr Farage who had planned to fight twice as many seats but was warned that by doing so he risked splitting the Leave vote and seeing Brexit denied.
The Prime Minister denied that he had done a deal with Mr Farage.
The pound rallied 1% to as much as $1.2896 on the news, before easing to stand up 0.8% on the day at $1.2875, its biggest daily rise against the dollar since mid-October.
Against the euro, the pound strengthened to its highest in six months, at 85.62p.
Arron Banks, who heads Leave.EU and is a close ally of Mr Farage, has been pushing the Brexit Party to target just 40 ‘winnable’ seats.
“Brilliant decision and we will campaign hard to return Tory & Brexit party MPs,” Mr Banks tweeted.
Mr Farage’s change of strategy comes just a week after Scottish media veteran Jack Irvine was hired as the party’s director of campaign communications.