Nigel Farage says PM must vow ‘clean break’ Brexit for election pact

Nigel Farage today held out the prospect that the Brexit Party could line up behind Boris Johnson in an election – but only if he vows to deliver a ‘clean break’ from the EU.

The MEP said he was ready to put ‘country before party’ and ‘help in any way we can’ if a snap poll is triggered.

But he warned that the PM seemed ‘intent on reheating Theresa May‘s Withdrawal Agreement’ and that meant there was no chance of a pact. 

The intervention came after Mr Johnson pledged to call an election for October 14 if Remainers win a crunch vote tonight aiming to block No Deal.

The PM said the move would ‘chop the legs off’ the goverment’s negotiating strategy, and warned he will never ask Brussels for an extension to the Halloween deadline.

But Tory success in a poll could rely on Mr Farage’s Brexit Party not splitting the Eurosceptic vote in key marginal seats. 

Nigel Farage (pictured at a rally in Colchester last night) has held out the prospect that the Brexit Party could line up behind Boris Johnson in an election - but only if he vows to deliver a 'clean break' from the EU

Nigel Farage (pictured at a rally in Colchester last night) has held out the prospect that the Brexit Party could line up behind Boris Johnson in an election - but only if he vows to deliver a 'clean break' from the EU

Nigel Farage (pictured at a rally in Colchester last night) has held out the prospect that the Brexit Party could line up behind Boris Johnson in an election – but only if he vows to deliver a ‘clean break’ from the EU

Mr Farage has already signalled that he is ready to put up candidates in all 650 parliamentary constituencies if necessary. 

‘Of course if Boris Johnson says we’re leaving, we’re going to have a clean break… then we, the Brexit Party, would put country before party and tell Mr Johnson that we want to help you in any way we can,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘But I’m afraid that’s not what the prime minister wants to do and that was made very clear by his statement outside Downing Street last night. He is intent on reheating Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement.’

The PM is engaged in a desperate last-ditch effort to pick off Tory Remainers ahead of the crucial vote, which could define the future of the country for decades.

But rebels insisted they will not back down despite warnings of deselection and Mr Johnson’s explosive threat to call a snap election.

More than a dozen are still expected to vote against the government this evening on the cross-party bid to seize control of Commons business and pass legislation ruling out No Deal.

In a challenge to the PM, Philip Hammond was reselected in Runnymede and Weybridge by executive members of the Conservative Association at a private meeting last night.

And today he slammed the government’s ‘aggressive’ tactics, saying the PM will have the ‘fight of a lifetime’ if he tries to deselect him. ‘I am going to support the Bill… I think we have the numbers,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He also launched an excoriating attack on maverick No10 Brexit chief Dominic Cummings. ‘This is my party, I am going to defend my party against people who are at the heart of this government who care nothing about the future of the Conservative party,’ he said.

Former Cabinet minister Justine Greening pre-empted punishment for siding with Remainers by announcing she will not stand as a Tory candidate again.

Mr Johnson made clear last night that he will move to call an election if Remainers manage to block No Deal Brexit

Mr Johnson made clear last night that he will move to call an election if Remainers manage to block No Deal Brexit

Mr Johnson made clear last night that he will move to call an election if Remainers manage to block No Deal Brexit

But she said she would still represent the interests of her constituents in Putney by joining the rebel alliance tonight. Former Cabinet ministers David Gauke, Greg Clark and Caroline Nokes were among a group of senior figures in No10 for private talks this morning.

In a dramatic statement on the steps of Downing Street last night, Mr Johnson insisted he ‘does not want’ an election, but warned that rebels would ‘chop the legs’ from the Government’s EU negotiations if they side with Jeremy Corbyn. He said he would never ask for a Brexit extension from Brussels.

Rebels have accused Mr Johnson of using the election to try and ‘purge’ Tory opponents of No Deal and turn the party into a Eurosceptic vehicle.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd today warned against taking action against ‘very valued colleagues who made a very different choice’.

‘We should consider carefully the consequences of dividing the party. But I do support the PM in his commitment… to get a deal,’ she told reporters outside her London home.

 

 

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