Nigel Farage raged at ‘arrogant’ Boris Johnson for shunning an electoral alliance today as he unveiled 600 would-be Brexit Party MPs.
Launching the campaign in Westminster, Mr Farage vowed to take on the ‘two tribes’ of the Conservatives and Labour who had forgotten what they promised in the 2016 referendum.
Mr Farage – who is not standing for the Commons himself – also dismissed warnings from Conservative ‘Spartans’ and former allies that he risks handing victory to Jeremy Corbyn.
He insisted the only way forward with Brexit now was a ‘clean break’ from the EU without a deal.
‘They say that we will split the vote. But we will not split the vote, because we will be the only people actually offering Brexit, leaving the EU institutions,’ he said.
Slamming the Tories’ ‘conceited arrogance’ for shunning an alliance to deliver Brexit, Mr Farage effectively gave the PM 10 days to change his mind.
‘He says vote for this and get Brexit done. That is a very tempting slogan with a public who, after three and a half years of this process, in many cases have just about had enough,’ he said.
‘But the problem is that it doesn’t get Brexit done. It takes us into three more years of agonising negotiations with Michel Barnier in charge.’
Mr Farage posed for pictures with a host of candidates in London today, who formed the audience for his speech.
But they were not individually announced on stage and a full list of all their names and constituencies was not provided to journalists.
As he unveiled 600 would-be Brexit Party MPs, Nigel Farage predicted the poll will result in another hung parliament
Mr Farage was acclaimed by supporters as he laid down the gauntlet to the Tories and Labour
The Brexit Party is launching its slate of candidates for the looming election today
Mr Farage ramped up rhetoric after Boris Johnson (pictured in London today) again ruled out an electoral alliance, ignoring entreaties from their mutual ally Donald Trump
The Brexit Party leader said: ‘We now have about 10 days to go before the close of nominations. The clock is ticking.
Jean-Claude Juncker lashes Boris Johnson for Brexit referendum ‘lies’
Jean-Claude Juncker delivered a vicious parting shot at Boris Johnson today, accusing him of ‘lies’ during the Brexit referendum battle.
The EU commission president made the bitter claim as he prepares to stand down after his five-year term.
He also took a potshot at Tony Blair for failing to push the UK into signing up to a federal European system, saying that had paved the way for the Brexit vote.
The jibe, in an interview with Der Spiegel, came despite Mr Johnson and Mr Juncker managing to put together a new deal in just a few months after he became PM.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly dismissed claims that he misled voters as the face of the Vote Leave campaign.
Remainers were furious at the Brexit bus emblazoned with the claim that departing from the EU could free up £350million a week for the NHS.
In his latest interview, Mr Juncker singled out Mr Johnson for condemnation.
‘So many lies were told, including by current prime minister, Boris Johnson, that there needed to be a voice to counter them,’ he said.
Mr Juncker also pointed the finger of blame for the referendum result at Europhile politicians, such as ‘my friend’ Mr Blair.
The chief Eurocrat said the British had always seen the EU as an economic project rather than a political union.
‘If you stick to that narrative for over 40 years, it should not come as a surprise when people remember it during the referendum,’ Mr Juncker said.
‘It would appear that far from embracing this offer … the Conservative Party wants to shut down the argument.’
Mr Farage condemned the way the ‘two big tribes of British politics are reassembling’ for the coming election.
‘For them it is all about the rosette,’ Mr Farage said.
He added: ‘Too much of what is going on in the country these days is about the Brexit Party and the Tory Party.
‘The media seems to have forgotten that five million Labour voters voted for Brexit.’
Mr Farage ramped up the rhetoric after Mr Johnson again ruled out an electoral alliance, ignoring entreaties from their mutual ally Donald Trump.
Earlier, he had accused Tory Brexiteers of falling into line behind Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU like ‘good little boys’, despite the package being similar to that secured by Theresa May.
He told ITV’s GMB this morning: ‘It is likely, it is likely that we are going to have a hung parliament next time around so actually if the Brexit Party get a reasonable amount of people in there they could exert a great influence.
‘Mrs May was kept in power by 10 DUP MPs.’
Mr Farage said Labour would be his ‘number one’ target and vowed to ‘hurt’ Mr Corbyn’s party.
‘I led Ukip into the 2015 general election. I had all the same stuff, all the same arguments. The Tory tribe screaming and shouting, ‘Don’t take our votes’,’ he said.
‘The Ukip vote took more votes from Labour than it did from the Conservatives, (David) Cameron wouldn’t have even got a majority without Ukip.
‘We are going to hurt the Labour Party in the most extraordinary way. We’ll do it in South Wales, we’ll do it in the Midlands, we’ll do it in the north of England.
‘Those Labour voters have been completely betrayed by the Labour Party. They are my number one target. I got those votes in 2015, I’ll do it again.’
Downing Street rules out extending the Brexit transition period past 2020
Downing Street today categorically ruled out extending the Brexit transition period beyond 2020 after a Cabinet minister warned trade talks with the EU would not be ‘straightforward’.
Under the terms of Boris Johnson’s divorce deal, the EU and the UK have until the end of next year to hammer out the details of their post-Brexit trading relationship.
Critics believe there is no chance of the two sides getting everything done in such a short space of time and the divorce deal does include the option of a delay of up to two years.
But Number 10 insisted this morning that the December 31, 2020 deadline will be stuck to after Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey appeared to suggest it would be tough to meet.
Mr Johnson said in an interview broadcast yesterday that he could ‘see no reason whatever why we should extend the transition period’ – but he did not give a guarantee.
However, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman was unequivocal on the subject this morning.
‘The government will not be extending the transition period,’ the spokesman said.
However, Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted the deal was a ‘complete Brexit’ and that Mr Farage should recognise the time had come to ‘retire from the field’.
‘I think he would be well-advised to recognise that that battle he won. He should be really proud of his political career,’ he told LBC radio.
‘It would be a great shame if he carries on fighting after he has already won to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
‘I understand why Nigel Farage would want to carry on campaigning because he has been campaigning for the best part of 30 years and it must be hard to retire from the field. But that is what he ought to do.’
Whether the Brexit Party succeeds in getting any MPs elected or not, Tories fear the party could play a major role in splitting the Leave vote.
The Conservatives have rejected his offer of an electoral pact, and Mr Farage on Sunday ruled out standing in a constituency himself.
Having lost seven previous bids to become an MP, Mr Farage insisted this afternoon he could ‘serve the cause better’ by ‘traversing the length’ of the country supporting other candidates.
“I will be out in those Labour constituencies. I’ll be in the East Midlands, I’ll be in South Wales. I’ll be in the North East. I want the country to know the sheer extent of Labour betrayal,’ he told reporters.
There is also mounting evidence of splits in the Brexit Party itself, with the Dudley South candidate Paul Brothwood withdrawing and endorsing Tory incumbent Mike Wood, a staunch Eurosceptic.
Brexit Party candidate quits and backs Tories
Nigel Farage is facing mounting splits in the Brexit Party today as a candidate withdrew and backed the Tories.
Dudley South hopeful Paul Brothwood has endorsed Conservative incumbent Mike Wood, a staunch Eurosceptic.
Mr Brothwood said he feared votes for the Brexit Party would only help elect a Labour-Lib Dem government.
The official Tory twitter account posted this afternoon: ‘This now former Brexit party candidate agrees – the only way to get Brexit done is to #VoteConservative on December 12th.’
The unveiling came after the PM apologised to the Tory members who elected him leader for failing on his ‘do-or-die’ promise to implement Brexit by Halloween.
Mr Johnson said he feels ‘deep regret’ over missing the former deadline, which he was compelled to extend to the end of January.
In an interview with Sky’s Ridge on Sunday, he was told he needed to take responsibility and could not just blame other people.
‘Well, I do. I do and I’m deeply, deeply disappointed,’ the PM replied.
Pushed on whether he would apologise to Tory members who supported him, Mr Johnson replied: ‘Of course, of course.’
Mr Johnson also said he can see ‘no reason whatsoever’ about why the UK should extend the Brexit transition period beyond December 2020, adding: ‘If you get the right Parliament anything’s possible.’
Earlier, Mr Farage said the Brexit Party would ‘hurt’ Labour in the most ‘extraordinary way’
Steve Baker, the chair of the European Research Group band of hardline Tory Brexiteers, warned that Mr Farage is risking creating a hung Parliament by ‘dogmatically pursuing purity’
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘I’ve thought very hard about this – how do I serve the cause of Brexit best, because that’s what I’m doing this for.
Tories switch Brexit clocks at party HQ
The new clock at Tory HQ
A Brexit countdown clock installed on a wall at the Conservative Party’s headquarters is now counting upwards since the UK ‘should have left the EU’.
Following an extension October 31’s Brexit deadline, a message above the clock now reads: ‘Time since we should have left the EU if Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP hadn’t blocked Brexit.’
The original timer was unveiled by Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly on July 31 and was displayed beneath a message which read: ‘We will have delivered Brexit and left the EU by.’
The digital timepiece was one of two, each believed to have cost at least £500, with the other delivered to Downing Street to be displayed in the Prime Minister’s office.
‘Not for a career, I don’t want to be in politics for the rest of my life.
‘Do I find a seat to try get myself into parliament or do I serve the cause better traversing the length and breadth of the United Kingdom supporting 600 candidates, and I’ve decided the latter course is the right one.’
In a move likely to rile the proponent of a no-deal departure, senior Treasury minister Rishi Sunak failed to deny suggestions the threat was being removed from the Tory manifesto.
Steve Baker, the chair of the European Research Group band of hardline Tory Brexiteers, warned that Mr Farage is risking creating a hung Parliament by ‘dogmatically pursuing purity’.
‘That’s the irony of Nigel Farage. He risks being the man who hands Boris a weak and indecisive Parliament, and bringing about, therefore, his own worst fears,’ Mr Baker told the Telegraph.
On the opposite side of the Brexit spectrum, the Lib Dems were not ruling out forming a Remain electoral alliance in up to 60 seats to boost the chances of preventing a Conservative majority.
Talks have been under way between the unequivocally pro-EU parties of the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to boost the chances of electing anti-Brexit MPs.
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson told Sky: ‘I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the numbers are accurate.
‘I think it’s fair to say that in the vast majority of constituencies the party of Remain that is going to be best-placed to win that seat will be the Liberal Democrats.’
Meet the Brexit Party hopefuls standing at the General Election
Inaya Folarin Iman: Leeds North East
Inaya Folarin Iman, 22, has swapped university for the campaign trail, having graduated in the summer with a degree in Arabic and international studies from Leeds. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, raised by a single mother in London, she is standing in her adopted home city in Yorkshire. Leeds North East voted 63 per cent Remain and Labour’s Fabian Hamilton has a majority of 16,991. She does not believe that the party will split the Conservative vote but can be a thorn in Labour’s side. She told MailOnline: ‘This idea that the Brexit Party is an offshoot of the Tory party is just ridiculous. We have many, many people, former Momentum people, former Labour supporters. One of the things we have been really campaigning on is Labour heartlands. We are finding that is where a lot of our votes are coming from, disaffected Labour supporters.’
Dr Kulvinder Manik: Bradford South
Forty six-year-old doctor Kulvinder Manik is another Brexit Party candidate taking on a Labour seat. He is looking to overturn Judith Cummins’ 6,700 majority in a seat that voted 64 per cent for Leave in 2016. Bradford-born to parents from India and Kenya he is also a trained barrister. A former Labour member – albeit for only a short amount of time, he voted Remain in 2016 after asking his 14-year-old daughter what she thought he should do, because it was about her future. ‘In late 2018 my by then 16-year-old, despondently said that not respecting the Leave result was undemocratic,’ he told MailOnline. ‘I realised our children’s future democracy was at stake. I left the Labour party and joined the Brexit Party.’ He branded Boris Johnson’s deal ‘Halloween sorcery’.
Brexit Party run would cost Tories a key marginal at election, poll finds
The Brexit Party could cost the Tories a key marginal at the next election, a new poll revealed today.
Boris Johnson’s party would fail to retake Portsmouth South from Labour if Nigel Party stood against them, because they will absorb a swathe of Conservative votes.
But there was also no good news for Labour in the Survation poll. The seat, where Stephen Morgan currently has a majority of 1,554, would instead pass to the Liberal Democrats, according to a survation poll.
It showed the Tories on 27 per cent and the Brexit Party on 14 per cent, a combined 41 per cent. But the Lib Dems are on 30 per cent and Labour on 24 per cent.
The Tory and Labour figures are massive falls of 14 per cent and 17 respectively in a seat that was a straight two-way fight in 2017.
But it was previously a Lib Dem seat held by Mike Hancock from 1997 to 2015.
Stop weaponising the NHS! Health service chiefs condemn Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson and warn them against making ‘undeliverable promises’ to win votes at the election
Carrie MacEwen, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges which represents the UK’s 220,000 doctors, said politicians were guilty of using the NHS as ‘vote bait’.
Urging the two main parties not to engage in a health service bidding war in the run up to December 12, Ms MacEwen said the NHS must ‘not to be used as a tool to swing voters’.
She also claimed doctors are afraid that the two main parties will tell ‘outright lies’ about the NHS during the election campaign.
The pointed intervention comes after both the Tories and the Labour Party have already made clear that the NHS will be a key focus for both of their respective bids for votes.
Mr Johnson has visited numerous hospitals since he became Prime Minister with health one of a handful of domestic priorities – along with the police and schools – which will form the backbone of the Conservatives’ campaign.
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn and the Labour Party have made claims the Tories will sell off the NHS to the US in a post-Brexit trade deal – repeatedly denied by the Conservatives – a central plank of their push for power.
Boris Johnson, pictured during a visit to the National Institute for Health Research at the Cambridge Clinical Research Facility in Addenbrooke’s Hospital on October 31, is expected to focus heavily on the NHS during the election campaign
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured on October 30 during a visit to Crawley Hospital, has repeatedly accused the Tories of plotting to sell off the NHS to the US in a post-Brexit trade deal
Writing in The Times, Ms MacEwen said: ‘Loud calls for more resources or “to save our great NHS” are, as every politician knows, guaranteed vote bait.
‘Catnip to the undecideds and a surefire way of getting a round of applause on Question Time. This cannot be right.
‘The NHS’s role is to manage the health of the nation, not to be used as a tool to swing voters in a three-way marginal.’
She added: ‘Our fear is that when it comes to the NHS in these febrile times we will see irrational, undeliverable promises or even outright lies.’
She attacked Labour’s plans for a nationalised drugs company as she questioned who would pay for the research to create the promised new, cheaper medicines.
She also criticised the Tories for announcing funding for 40 new and improved hospitals when cash is actually only in place for six.
‘This is easy electioneering aimed at a soft target,’ she said.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said doctors were right to hold politicians to account.
‘Hospital leaders and doctors groups and nurses groups are right to hold us politicians to account, they are right to scrutinise us, they are right to scrutinise Boris Johnson when he claims he is rebuilding 40 new hospitals and it turns out he is only rebuilding six,’ he said.
‘They are right to put us under the microscope. But by the same token I am passionate about the NHS and I’m afraid I am angry.’
Jon Ashworth, pictured with Mr Corbyn at Crawley Hospital, said doctors were ‘right to hold us politicians to account’
Cabinet minister Therese Coffey, the Work and Pensions, said the NHS is the ‘people’s priority’ and the Tories would ensure it is ‘well invested in’.
‘The promises are genuine, we have already increased the budget for the NHS, that is why we have already made these commitments, six hospitals ready to go to get on with that construction, 34 other hospitals getting in place their business plans for the future,’ she said.
‘It is important that we make sure that we are investing in the NHS for the benefit of patients.’
She added: ‘It is not about trying to use this as a political football, it is very much the people’s priority, and certainly the priority of the Conservatives, to make sure that our NHS which is very much cherished is well invested in and is delivering for patients.’