War of words erupts over Brexit Party’s pact of­fer to Tories

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Macer Hall Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

BORIS John­son last night flatly re­jected Nigel Farage’s of­fer of an al­liance at the next election to unite Leave vot­ers.

The Brexit Party leader had sug­gested a “non-ag­gres­sion” pact be­tween his anti-EU force and the Tories to turf Re­mainer MPs out of Par­lia­ment and get a

Commons ma­jor­ity of up to 100 for the Prime Min­is­ter.

He in­di­cated his party could stand aside in Tory-held seats and key Con­ser­va­tive target con­stituen­cies in re­turn for a free run in Labour’s heart­lands in the North, the Mid­lands and SouthWales.

But in re­sponse to the over­ture, a spokesman for Mr John­son said: “The Prime Min­is­ter will not be do­ing a deal with Nigel Farage.”

A se­nior Tory source claimed the Brexit Party leader was “not a fit and proper per­son” and should not be “any­where near govern­ment”.

Mr Farage made his of­fer of a pact in a front-page ad­ver­tise­ment in yes­ter­day’s Daily Ex­press.

Speak­ing in West­min­ster later, he claimed the al­liance to rout the Re­main­ers could hand the PM a big Commons ma­jor­ity. He went on: “We think the time has come for the Leavers to get to­gether and to work to­gether.

“To­gether, with a non-ag­gres­sion pact done in­tel­li­gently across the seats we would prob­a­bly have ended up with Boris hav­ing a ma­jor­ity of 60-100 seats.”

He added: “It’s up to them, they will have to de­cide. Clearly, if Boris John­son wanted to have a nonag­gres­sion pact with us that would be a sig­nif­i­cant re­align­ment of the cen­tre-Right of Bri­tish politics.

“He would be say­ing the broad church of the Con­ser­va­tive Party is over, it is fin­ished, there’s no room for the One Na­tion­ers.

“It’s a mas­sive de­ci­sion for him but if he wants to win the election with a work­able ma­jor­ity I don’t think he’s got any other op­tion.”

An opin­ion poll last night

showed over­whelm­ing back­ing among sup­port­ers of both par­ties for a pact. The YouGov survey found 60 per cent of Tory vot­ers and 70 per cent of Brexit Party back­ers were keen on the idea.

Mr Farage said the Brexit Party, cur­rently sup­ported by about 14-15 per cent of vot­ers, had the po­ten­tial to se­ri­ously dam­age the Tories at the next election if a pact was not agreed.

He claimed: “They know they’ve got a very ma­jor prob­lem with us.”

Mr Farage said his party wanted a clear run to take on “keen Re­mainer Labour MPs” in Leave vot­ing ar­eas but the num­ber of such con­stituen­cies was a matter for ne­go­ti­a­tion. Re­spond­ing to re­ports his party wanted the Tories to stand down in 80 to 90 seats, he said: “That’s all to be sat down and talked about.

“Given that we think the Con­ser­va­tives will take a kick­ing from Novem­ber 1 and that a gen­eral election is un­avoid­able there is an ob­vi­ous deal to be done.”

Mr Farage said he be­lieved he could help get Tory can­di­dates “over the line” in key marginals.

But he warned: “There is one lit­tle pro­viso – we do not want the With­drawal Agree­ment, the Euro­pean treaty, to be re­vis­ited. It would ap­pear his tac­tic is to get the back­stop changed.

“We would ar­gue very strongly that it is not sat­is­fac­tory, it’s not Brexit. It isn’t worth hav­ing.”

Mr Farage said there was “mas­sive dis­con­nect” in many tra­di­tional Labour ar­eas be­tween vot­ers and current MPs.

But he said: “If Boris John­son thinks he can win in those seats, I don’t know what he’s smok­ing.”

Last night Mr Farage said he was sur­prised and dis­ap­pointed by the Tories’ re­jec­tion of his “hand of friend­ship” of­fer of a pact.

He said: “They seem to be some­what in the bunker and per­haps not thinking straight. Let’s grow up, let’s put petty tribal politics aside.”

LABOUR MPs have at­tacked deputy leader Tom Wat­son for want­ing a sec­ond Brexit ref­er­en­dum in­stead of an election.

Caro­line Flint called it “fan­tasy politics”, Gareth Snell warned the pub­lic has “no ap­petite” for it. And Jeremy Cor­byn said: “I don’t ac­cept it.”

But Owen Smith said Mr Wat­son was “speak­ing for the ma­jor­ity of Labour”.

PM Boris John­son is in no mood to ask for an al­liance

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