And Alexandra Philips, who had been due to contest Southampton Itchen, has been involved in a spat on Twitter with fellow MEP Lance Forman after she declared she would now not vote in next month’s general election, claiming she had been “disenfranchised” by her own party. Mr Farage told supporters in Hartlepool yesterday he would be pulling Brexit Party candidates out of the 317 seats won by the Conservatives at the 2017 general election, claiming he was putting “country before party”. The anti-EU party has now pulled the plug on its Westminster rally on Tuesday morning – despite having promoted it as recently as Saturday.
His decision to offer a “unilateral” Leave alliance to Boris Johnson, a move that is likely to aid the Tories in Leave-voting South West seats against the pro-Europe Liberal Democrats, has been met with dismay by some candidates.
Ms Phillips, who was due to stand as a candidate in the Tory seat of Southampton Itchen before Mr Farage’s announcement, tweeted: “I will be one of millions of people who will not vote at all in the General Election. That breaks my heart.
“I have voted in every election since I was 18 and been involved in politics for over a decade.
“And I have been disenfranchised by my own party.”
Nigel Farage speaks on television this morning
Alexandra Philips said she will refuse to vote in the general election
It’s not for you to coerce me to vote for a party I was NOT elected to represent. Perhaps YOU should think about that
Mr Forman responded by posting: “Alex. You are not 16. What’s the point in spending your life fighting for democracy and then not voting. Vote.”
Ms Philips replied: “Would you like to hold the biro for me? Parties must earn support.
“I expect people to vote on the virtues of the party they choose as a personal private choice.
“It’s not for you to coerce me to vote for a party I was NOT elected to represent. Perhaps YOU should think about that.”
Brexit Party MEP Lance Forman
Meanwhile, Robert Wheal, who had been due to fight in the Arundel and South Downs constituency, said Mr Farage was “finished as a politician” following the climb-down.
He tweeted: “All that Farage has exposed is his duplicity to so many supporters who had put their faith in him.”
The party had been due to hold a meeting at Church House in Westminster on Tuesday but a spokesman confirmed it was “not happening”.
He said the party had “already said what we needed to say” during Mr Farage’s speech in Hartlepool.
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Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Philips is angry at Mr Farage
Alexandra Philips clashed on Twitter with Lance Forman
The Brexit Party’s focus, following Monday’s decision, will now shift to contesting Labour seats and those held by Remain-supporting MPs.
The decision allows the party to pincer its attention on Midlands and Northern seats with high Leave turnouts.
However, the party has insisted it continues to hold target seats in the South still, despite pulling the Westminster rally at the last minute.
Members of the media turned up unaware of the cancellation only an hour before its 11am expected start time.
Brexit Party factfile
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Asked if the party was moving its attention away from southern constituencies, a party spokesman said: “Absolutely not. The reason why we wanted to do a press conference in London was to speak to the national press.
“But, having dragged every one up to the North, we did what we need to do.”
Mr Farage’s campaign troops will continue to canvass in Labour-held constituencies such as Dagenham and Rainham (69 percent Leave vote) and Barking (60 percent Leave vote) in east London, officials confirmed.
The spokesman added: ”If you look at the Leave vote in those areas, it is very strong.”
Iain Duncan Smith warned the Brexit Party “would let Labour in”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
The Brexit Party event in Ilford, east London, on Wednesday, is still due to go ahead.
Despite opting not to contest Tory seats, the concession has not been enough for some on the Government benches, with some calling on the Brexit Party to stand down in Labour marginals.
Ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith told the Sun: “It’s a good start but if they want to deliver Brexit they’ve still got to focus on the fact that if they divide the vote they’ll let Labour in.”
Mr Farage, in what is looking to be a stand-off between the two parties, similarly has called for the Tories to follow his lead in “some seats in Labour areas where the Conservative Party has not won for 100 years and will never win”.