Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 January 2020

Britain Decides: Nigel Farage defends Brexit election campaign as he attacks left-wing opposition

Strongholds of the Labour Party in Farage’s sights as British election gets underway

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage wears boxing gloves at a general election campaign event at Bolsover Boxing Club in Chesterfiel. REUTERS/Phil Noble 
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage wears boxing gloves at a general election campaign event at Bolsover Boxing Club in Chesterfiel. REUTERS/Phil Noble 

The UK’s Brexit Party came out fighting yesterday when it launched its general election campaign from a boxing ring in the shadow of Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire.

Bolsover is traditionally a stronghold for the UK’s main opposition party, Labour, but it is at the heart of the Brexit Party’s campaign as 70 per cent of residents voted to leave the EU in 2016.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage claimed there were five million Labour supporters for the taking in similar towns across the country when polls open on December 12.

“We are in Labour heartland, represented by Labour MPs decade after decade, generation after generation…but it is a Labour Party dominated by north London intellectuals. They have completely lost touch with ordinary people,” he told the hundred-strong crowd to rapturous applause.

“They are now a party completely committed to overturning what we voted for back in June 2016. I do not think a single Labour Leave voter should vote for that party in areas like this.”

Moments before the rally he tweeted a warning shot to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: “The Labour vote is our key target, they have been betrayed.”

Later he tweeted: “Great start to our nationwide tour. The gloves are off in this campaign and we are going after Corbyn’s Labour.”

Mr Farage has been urged to move to the sidelines by his allies in the Conservatives who fear a split in the Leave vote could put the whole drive to leave the European Union by January 31 in jeopardy.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, is urging the same voters to back the Conservatives in a bid to get Brexit done, Mr Farage on Tuesday dismissed calls to stand aside.

It was fighting talk as he put a pair of boxing gloves on and said: “Some how Labour voters are all going to vote for Conservatives, that’s what Boris’ team says, I don’t know what they’ve been smoking, perhaps we should all have some, but it is simply not going to happen.

“Right now I will not allow him [Mr Johnson] to masquerade deliver Brexit when it is anything but.

“We have to get Brexit done properly and the Brexit Party is the only choice.”

Mr Johnson hopes to win a Conservative majority so that he can break the country's Brexit deadlock and get his EU divorce deal through Parliament.

But Mr Farage has said his party will run in almost every constituency unless Mr Johnson scraps his EU divorce deal.

His party, which was founded earlier this year, rejects Mr Johnson's Brexit deal, preferring to leave the bloc with no agreement on future relations in what it calls a "clean-break" Brexit.

The party says leaving with a deal, as Mr Johnson wants, would mean continuing to follow some EU rules and holding years of negotiations on future relations.

The first three candidates were introduced at the event with the Brexit Party campaign now set to visit 60 more locations across the UK.

Grandmother Elaine Morley, 69, travelled from Nottingham to attend the event.

She said: “We feel disenfranchised. Our local politician voted to Remain and does not represent our constituency’s views. I voted Conservative all my life, but no longer. I do not think what Boris is offering is a true Brexit, I want to leave the EU and his version is not leaving.”

Her comments were echoed by retired businessman Grenville Morley: “I feel we have fought for Queen and country and now we are sick of being told by other countries how to run our own country. I joined the Brexit Party this year as I feel it is the only party truly representing the public at the moment.”

Mr Farage, who has run for Parliament seven times without success, has said he will not be a candidate himself.

All seats in the 650-seat House of Commons are up for grabs in the December 12 election.

US President Donald Trump, a friend of Mr Farage, has urged the two politicians to form an electoral pact, saying last week that together they would be "an unstoppable force."

But Mr Johnson has ruled out doing a deal with Mr Farage. And Brexit-supporting Conservatives have criticised Mr Farage, saying he could split the pro-Brexit vote and allow the left-of-centre opposition Labour Party to win power.

On Tuesday evening the UK Parliament will be dissolved and the official elections campaigns will begin in earnest from Wednesday.

Updated: November 5, 2019 08:51 PM