Boris Johnson’s chances of electoral success were helped earlier this week when Nigel Farage confirmed that the Brexit Party would not stand in 317 Tory seats, thus reducing any chance of the Conservative vote being split.
The news will come as a mighty relief for Johnson who now stands a much greater chance of winning over leave-voting South West seats against the pro-Europe Liberal Democrats.
However, the Brexit Party leader also said that he would be standing candidates in Labour marginals as the party had “turned their back on Brexit”. This move prompted fierce backlash from some Tory ministers with one senior figure going so far as to say that: “if we end up with a hung parliament again because of the Brexit Party all eyes will be on him. People will say, you did this.” The Brexit Party’s Scottish MEP, Louis Stedman-Bryce, who was standing in Labour held Glasgow North East, stood down and told Twitter that: “I joined the Brexit Party to change politics for good and uphold democracy and I do not trust @BorisJohnson to deliver the type of Brexit I voted for. I cannot support standing down PPC’s across all Tory seats.”
Aaron Banks has claimed that Farage, who proved indispensable to Bank’s when they both campaigned under the banner of Leave.EU during the 2016 referendum, now has only “48 hours to save Brexit and save the country from a Corbyn government.”
Despite Johnson making clear his intentions to “unshackle brilliant UK officials trapped in meeting after meeting in Brussels and Luxembourg,” it seems that the PM will now elect a new commissioner after caving under pressure from European Commision President Ursula von der Leyen. Number 10 said that the UK meets its legal obligations, and our officials remain in regular contact with the president-elect’s team.
The PM had suggested that doing so would prove detrimental to British interests. Meanwhile Liberal Democrat candidate for Labour held Canterbury, Tim Walker, has stepped down after fears were raised that his candidacy would split the remain vote in the region.