Nigel Farage, leader of Britain’s Brexit Party, says his party will not contest 317 Conservative Party seats in the December 12 election but would contest nearly all other seats, a significant boost for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Farage said he did not want anti-Brexit parties to win the election so was standing down candidates in the seats won by the Conservatives in the 2017 election.
“The Brexit Party will not contest the 317 seats the Conservatives won at the last election,” Mr Farage said, adding that he had made the decision overnight. A week ago, he promised to field 600 candidates.
Mr Farage cast his move as a step that would prevent another EU referendum and make a hung parliament much less likely. He said Mr Johnson was proposing a Brexit that sounded like the option that the British people had voted for in a referendum of EU membership three years ago.
“But 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 in 2017,” he said. “We will also take on the rest of the remainer parties.”
“If it wasn’t for the threat of us, Boris wouldn’t have said those things last night. There wouldn’t have been a change in direction.” pic.twitter.com/sDQrwgz9x3
— The Brexit Party (@brexitparty_uk) November 11, 2019
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the move meant Farage’s friend, US President Donald Trump, had got his wish – shared on a live radio interview with Mr Farage – for an alliance between Mr Farage and Mr Johnson.
Mr Farage said Mr Trump would be “very, very pleased” to hear of the move, stemming from Mr Johnson’s promise to go for a Canada-style trade deal with the EU.
“It is obviously good for the Conservatives mainly because we know the Brexit Party is mainly threatening the Conservative vote,” said Sara Hobolt, a professor who specialises in polling at the London School of Economics.
“Farage is sending a signal saying Boris Johnson represents the real Brexit vote and that could matter in the seats where he is standing,” Mr Hobolt said.