BORIS: I WON’T DO DEAL WITH FARAGE
War of words erupts over Brexit Party’s pact offer to Tories
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