Four senior Brexit Party politicians quit yesterday and urged their fellow Eurosceptics to vote Tory.
With just a week to go until polling day, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, Lance Forman, Lucy Harris and John Longworth announced they were leaving the party, saying the Brexit Party’s participation in the election will split the Leave vote.
Rees-Mogg, MEP for the East Midlands and a former Tory candidate, said: “We need a strong Leave-supporting government to deliver the Brexit 17.4 million voted for. The Conservatives are the only option for Brexit supporters and democrats alike.”
Forman added: “The Brexit Party’s strategy is misguided. It jeopardises the chance to become an independent country at the very time victory is in sight.”
In response, Farage said he was “disappointed” and a party spokesperson spoke of close ties between the rebels and senior Tories – including Rees-Mogg’s brother Jacob.
“One of the MEPs is the sister of a cabinet minister, another has a partner who works in the office of the same cabinet minister and yet another is a personal friend of both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove,” the spokesperson said.
However, Rees-Mogg said she found it “disturbingly old-fashioned” that people were suggesting her brother was able to dictate her political views. “He doesn’t,” she said.
The news caps off a difficult week for the Brexit Party. On Wednesday, the party sacked the MEP John Longworth, the former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, for “repeatedly undermining” Farage’s election strategy.
Later, Farage, used a BBC interview with Andrew Neil to dismiss Rees-Mogg’s claim that the leave vote was being split across the country and to insist that his party is not imploding.
“She doesn’t understand what is happening in the Labour seats in which we are standing,” he said
With his party languishing at 3% in the polls, Farage has less clout than he had hoped for when he threatened the Tories with a Brexit Party candidate in every seat.
Earlier in the campaign, Farage withdrew from 317 Tory-held seats to avoid splitting the vote. He insisted last night that his party is still “hammering the Labour Leave vote in its traditional heartlands”.
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