Brexit Party’s Farage dismisses calls to stand down in Labour seats

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage on Thursday dismissed demands to stand down candidates fighting the Labour Party, saying his main aim was to win seats in parliament to hold Prime Minister Boris Johnson to account over Brexit.

In the most significant move of the election to date, Farage on Monday agreed to stand down 317 candidates in Conservative seats, a step that could pave the way for a majority in parliament for Johnson’s Brexit deal.

But Farage has resisted intense pressure to stand down more. He has until 1600 GMT on Thursday to withdraw more candidates.

“The Conservatives want a Conservative majority in parliament, not a Brexit majority in parliament,” Farage said. “We now need to get people in parliament to make sure we hold the Conservatives to account.”

“There were very clearly seats in which we are the lead challenger and there are other seats in which they are the lead challenger to Labour and we could have done a deal on that basis, but the priority for the Conservative Party – they do not want the Brexit Party to get seats in parliament.”

When asked about criticism from his former ally, Arron Banks, Farage said Banks had given up on Brexit and had “Brexhaustion”.

“He has given it up. Arron Banks has never given a penny to the Brexit Party, let’s be clear about that, he’s not supported the Brexit Party,” Farage said, adding Banks had now come in behind the deal crafted by former Prime Minister Theresa May.

“He, I think, has just had enough of Brexit, it’s Brexhaustion and he was happy for some reason to go along with Mrs May’s deal and Boris’ deal,” Farage said.

Banks told Reuters on Tuesday that Farage should step away.

“Nigel reminds me of a gambler at a casino that’s been winning all night and it’s time to take the chips off the table and step away,” Banks said. “What we are offering the geezer, as you might say, is Brexit.”