The leader of the Brexit Party defied calls to step back – some from his own allies – and said Mr Johnson has until Thursday to compromise, when General Election candidates need to hand in their nomination papers. Otherwise, he warned, his party will field candidates in every seat in England, Wales and Scotland and Mr Farage warns the “die will be cast” for a split in the Leave vote. He has also challenged the Prime Minister to a televised debate.
He said: “If Boris truly believes that he has a ‘great new deal’, then let’s have a debate…I will debate it with him anytime and anywhere over the next five weeks.”
The defiant message comes after it emerged Mr Farage’s former allies in Leave. EU have spoken to 100 Brexit Party candidates in a bid to persuade them to stand down.
Analysis suggests two out of every three Brexit Party voters comes from the Tories, although Mr Farage has insisted he is targeting the Labour Leave vote.
Meanwhile, senior Tory parliamentary candidates today warn that the Brexit Party could end up destroying Brexit.
Writing in the Sunday Express Steve Baker, who leads the powerful European Research Group of Brexiteer Tories, said: “This election could see a critical swathe of seats fall to remainers due to the split vote.”
In a number of seats parties are reporting that a split Leave vote will hand over constituencies to Labour or the Lib Dems.
Sources in the Portsmouth South Lib Dems, who according to recent analysis could win back the seat lost in 2015, have admitted that if the Brexit Party does not run it will “easily go Tory”.
And in Dagenham and Rainham, Peter Harris, the former Brexit Party regional coordinator, pleads for the Tories to be given a clear run to take the seat off Labour. But Mr Farage has insisted he cannot step down his candidates unless the Tories come to an agreement.
He said: “This is the chance for a Leave alliance to deliver Brexit and finish off Labour for a generation. The clock is ticking. Nominations for candidates close this week. After that, the die will be cast.”
Sources in the Brexit Party have said Mr Johnson “just needs to give them space to move” with a compromise deal which would include being given a free run in traditional Labour heartlands where the Tories have never won.
Meanwhile, Downing Street sources insisted the Conservatives’ shaky start to the campaign with the resignation of Welsh secretary Alan Cairns and controversy over comments by Jacob Rees-Mogg have not hurt them in the polls.
The Prime Minister, out yesterday selling poppies in his constituency in Uxbridge, west London, is said to be “pleased” with the way the campaign launch in Birmingham went, with the Midlands set to be the biggest battleground.
Polling suggests the Tories could be on course for a 50-plus majority if the Brexit Party does hit their vote.