Nigel Farage has announced that the Brexit Party will not contest seats held by Conservative MPs in a ‘unilateral deal’ announced during a press conference on 11 November 2019. The decision significantly reduces the likelihood of the leave vote being split in conservative heartlands.

In a speech given in Hartlepool, Mr Farage made the significant concession, one that removes the remote likelihood of the Brexit Party securing a majority in Parliament, but which will allow the party to consolidate its resources in the north of England and the Midlands, in areas that Mr Farage believes that “London-dominated” Labour have forgotten.

Mr Farage began by describing the betrayal of the leave vote at the hands of a “remain Parliament”,

Three-and-a-half years of delay. Three-and-a-half years of a remain Parliament. A total sellout of Brexit from Mrs May and from the Labour Party, a complete betrayal of five million of their own voters who voted ‘leave’ in that referendum, and they promised they would respect that vote.

Speaking of the deal that Mr Johnson secured with the European Union, Mr Farage continued by explaining that he was deeply unhappy with the terms of the deal, and that it would leave the UK too closely aligned with many key European institutions.

I noted in the days that followed, that unlike of those that voted for it and unlike many of those that praised it and are still today praising it, I actually read it, and I drew the conclusion that it simply wasn’t Brexit.

There were many, many concerns. I think the separate status for Northern Ireland – and what that may mean for the Scottish debate in years to come, and what that may mean for the Union – was part of it.

I didn’t like the binding commitments to state aid rules, which meant that we couldn’t, for example, take a strategic decision about an industry like steel. I certainly – having read the text on fishing – realised that it wasn’t going to deliver 200 miles of the North Sea, here in the north east of England.

Signed on 19 October 2019, Article XII of the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom states that “Within the context of the overall economic partnership the Parties [the United Kingdom and European Union] should establish a new fisheries agreement on, inter alia, access to waters and quota shares” and that this agreement should be in place by 1 July 2020.

Mr Farage continued that there were two aspects of the agreement in particular that were particularly unacceptable.

The first was that it just did not get Brexit done. […] All these documents do is take us into another set of agonising negotiations, and ones in  which, there is no question, the EU will have the upper hand.

Monsieur Barnier, who negotiated for the EU in the past few years, who did such a good job he has now been rerecruited by the European Union to do the next phase. He’s already said that the trade negotiation will last for three years or more. So, it doesn’t as it stands get Brexit done.

But the area that really worried me the most was the extent to which we were committing ourselves to regulatory and political alignment. We were binding ourselves in an international treaty to having parallel laws on everything from financial services to fisheries, even taxation; we would not be completely free to set our own rates of VAT or corporation tax.

And I said to myself, when I looked at that, that this really is not Brexit. […]

Then in a major announcement, he continued that he would be standing down PPCs from seats in which there was a sitting Conservative MP, citing the threat of a hung parliament if the leave vote were to be split.

That’s why the national nominating officer for the Brexit Party last week signed 600 candidate forms, because I felt that in a democracy everyone deserved to have a genuine choice. But the difficulty with that is weighing up what the consequences would be in this election of us fielding that number of candidates. And this has not been easy.

Everyone speculated that it would allow Corbyn to win. I don’t believe that, but what I do understand fully is that if we do field 600 candidates there will be a hung parliament. I think that that is far the most likely outcome, which I think is something that very few people really want. […]

I’ve tried over the course of the past few months as you know to build a leave alliance, and I knew that between us, Conservatives, and some leading Labour figures, that that could have been done. I’ve genuinely tried for months to put about the idea that putting country before party, at a moment like this, is the right thing to do. But that, effectively, has come to naught. […]

It’s been a difficult decision to make, but I have to say that last night, for the first time, I saw something since that Brussels summit that actually was optimistic, because I saw Boris Johnson on a video saying we will not extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020. […] But much more significantly […] he said something else that really did matter to me. He said we would negotiate a trade deal, a super Canada+ trade deal, with no political alignment. That is a huge change, because ever since Mrs May’s abject speech in Florence, we’ve been aiming at a close and special partnership with the European Union. We’ve been aiming actually to stay part of many of its agencies. And Boris did last night signal a very clear change of direction.

I thought to myself overnight, that does actually sound the Brexit that we voted for: trade, cooperation, reciprocity with our European neighbours is what we all want. [] We want to get on well with our next-door neighbours. What we don’t want is to be part of their political institutions, and if the Prime Minister is saying he will make sure that we are not part of political alignment, that I think is a significant step in the right direction.

So last night I weighed up Boris’s promises – and is he going to stick to them? – against the threat, particularly in the south and the southwest that we let in a lot of Liberal Democrat MPs. […]

The Brexit Party will not contest the 317 seats the Conservatives won at the last election, but what we will do is concentrate all of our effort into all the seats held by the Labour Party, who have completely broken their manifesto pledge in 2017 to respect the result of the referendum, and we will also take on the rest of the remainer parties.

Announcing his intention to hold Mr Johnson to his promises, Mr Farage focused attention on Labour, and what he views as Labour’s betrayal of five million of its own voters.

And I think there is a Labour audience out there waiting for that message, waiting to think that there is actually someone that is on their side; waiting to find a party that believes genuinely in investing in the regions; waiting for a party that says we actually need in our country to have sensible immigration controls, and not an open door to everybody. These I think are the messages that will resonate hard in the Labour areas, and you can absolutely rest assured that the people we’re putting up for the Brexit Party to stand in all of these seats are genuine and true. They are doing it, not because they want a career in politics. They’re doing it, because they genuinely want to make a difference to our country.

While it was clearly was disappointing with Mr Farage not to have been able to secure a deal with leave-voting Conservatives or Labour figures, he clearly believes that the effect of this action is to form a de facto alliance.

So, in a sense, we now have a leave alliance. It’s just that we’ve done it unilaterally.

We’re decided ourselves that we absolutely have to put country before party, and take the fight to Labour.

You can view the full press conference feed here:

https://www.pscp.tv/w/1OdKrLygqdyJX

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