Farage plots to launch new pro-Leave party after Ukip implosion
NIGEL FARAGE is set to launch a new pro-Leave political party after last week’s dramatic implosion of Ukip and today vows to fight in the next EU elections if Brexit is delayed.
The Brexit champion led a walk-out of major figures from Ukip in protest at its ‘new BNP’ stance, after dramatically warning the party’s embattled leader Gerard Batten in this newspaper that Ukip must ditch its relationship with anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson.
Mr Farage took with him a slew of senior Ukip figures, including ex-boss Paul Nuttall and Scottish leader David Coburn, both fellow Members of the European Parliament with Farage.
Now Farage and his colleagues are plotting to set up a new party to defend Brexit at a possible second referendum or if a General Election is sparked by the deadlock in Westminster.
A source said: ‘Nigel led one party from nothing to become the first to win a nationwide election since 1906 that was not Labour or Tory, in the 2014 European elections. He could do it again.’
And they hope to ‘drive a wedge’ between divided Conservatives, luring over hard Brexit MPs disillusioned by Theresa May’s deal.
Mr Farage vowed to fight in next May’s European elections under the banner of his as yet unnamed party if the two-year Article 50 EU divorce process is extended beyond next March.
He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘My view is that, between now and Christmas, Article 50 will be extended. Is there a lot of conversation about what then happens? Yes. If the Brexit ball is dropped completely, it will have to happen.’
He added: ‘Look, I make this absolutely clear, if they suspend Article 50 and we fight in the next European elections, I will be there.’
But Mr Farage insisted he did not want to have to be an MEP any longer than necessary, adding: ‘I can’t wait to leave. I’ve been there 19 years and eight months on Brexit Day. That is a hell of a long time.’
It is understood Mr Farage is looking to use the campaign group Leave Means Leave as a launchpad for his fledgling movement.
On Friday, Leave Means Leave boss Richard Tice said his group were already fundraising for a second referendum, telling the BBC: ‘We think it is 50/50 that it will happen.’ He added that a rerun of the Brexit battle ‘would be brutal, it would be ugly, it would be the most divisive thing this country has ever seen but I regret to say we are preparing for it’.
Sources within the group said that its office space and funds could easily be transferred into a political party after registering with the Electoral Commission.
Meanwhile, in response to Mr Farage’s attack, Ukip leader and fellow MEP Gerard Batten quit the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy grouping led by Mr Farage in the European Parliament on Friday.
Mr Batten will today join Mr Robinson in a march down Whitehall, amid fears of clashes with anti-fascist protests.
Mr Farage warned his former party not to take part in the Betrayal Of Brexit rally, amid fears it would tarnish the anti-EU cause and descend into violence.
Last night, the Hope Not Hate anti-racism group blasted the event as ‘a cynical attempt by some of the most extreme voices in Britain, united in hatred for Muslims and other minorities, to exploit Brexit tensions and sow discord and hatred’.
‘I’ll stand again if the Brexit ball is dropped’
‘There are 17.4million people out there who would like a word with the Prime Minister!’