BORIS JOHNSON will lead the Conservative Party into a general election in December, which the Prime Minister admitted will be “tough”. So how much of a threat is the Brexit Party?
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party at one point looked able to carry out a clean sweep in a general election, polling higher than the Conservatives shortly before Boris Johnson took over leadership of the party. Since then, however, the Brexit Party has fallen back in the polls slightly. While Mr Farage’s party poses less of a threat now than it did in June, it will not be underestimated by the Tories.
Mr Johnson will go into the campaign arguing that Leave voters should unite and back the Tories to deliver a strong mandate and pass his Brexit deal.
Mr Farage, on the other hand, will argue that Me Johnson failed to meet his central pledge to deliver Brexit “do or die” by October 31, and leaving without a deal will now only be achieved by a Brexit Party government.
Will Tanner, a former Conservative Strategist said: “There is a risk that the Brexit Party will play lots of video clips of Boris Johnson promising to get the UK out on October 31 and that he therefore can’t now be trusted.”
Mr Tanner said that, while the Brexit Party isn’t expected to win a majority, it could certainly frustrate and split the Leave vote.
He said: “Farage won’t win sears but he could frustrate the Conservatives and allow Labour and the Liberal Democrats to come through in some areas.”
Mr Farage has suggested that some Brexit Party MPs could stand aside in a pact with the Tories to aid a Brexiteer majority.
The Brexit Party has repeatedly called for Mr Johnson to agree a non-aggression electoral pact in certain seats.
Allies of Mr Johnson have rejected the idea of an electoral pact and said that Mr Farage was not a “fit and proper” person and should never be allowed “anywhere near government”.
On Tuesday, Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice was reluctant to say his party would stand against Tory MPs in the election.
Asked three times on Today on BBC Radio 4 if his party would stand against Conservative MPs in seats that they held Mr Tice eventually said: “If necessary, it is not our preference”.
Mr Tice added that he accepted Mr Johnson had been “trying” to secure Brexit by his own deadline of Halloween.
However, he said: “The reality is the Conservatives failed three times to deliver Brexit and they clearly need our help.”
He described his party’s offer of an electoral pact as “generous”.
According to the bookies, the Brexit Party doesn’t have a great chance of a sweeping win.
Coral bookmakers give the party odds of 33/1 for claiming a majority, against the Tory’s 1/6.
Nine times Boris Johnson promised a Halloween Brexit:
June 25, talkRADIO interview: “We are getting ready to come out on October the 31st . . . Do or die, come what may.”
June 27, Tory leadership hustings: “Kick the can again and we kick the bucket, my friends, that’s the sad reality.”
July 25, first speech as PM: “We are going to fulfil the repeated promises of parliament to the people and come out of the EU on October 31, no ifs or buts.”
September 2, Downing Street speech: “There are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on 31 October, no ifs or buts.”
September 3, speech in House of Commons: “I am confident of getting a deal. We will leave on 31 October in all circumstances. There will be no further pointless delay.”
September 5, when asked to promise he would not request a delay to Brexit: “I’d rather be dead in a ditch.”
October 2, speech to Conservative Party conference: “We are coming out of the EU on October 31, come what may Conference. Let’s get Brexit done.”
October 3 House of Commons dispatch box: “We will be leaving on 31 October, deal or no deal.”
October 19, House of Commons speech: “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.”