Brexit Party to stand in Portsmouth South – but Nigel Farage says party will not contest Conservative seats
TORY hopes the Brexit Party will backtrack on plans to stand in the marginal seat of Portsmouth South appear to have been dashed by Nigel Farage.
The party’s leader Mr Farage told a press conference today in Hartlepool his candidates will not stand in 317 seats won by the Tories in 2017.
But he added the party would stand in Labour seats - and any ‘Remainer parties’, including the Liberal Democrats.
Portsmouth South, a three-way marginal, was won in 2017 by Labour's Portsmouth South.
It means Conservative candidate Donna Jones' plea for the Brexit Party not to oppose her appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
Last week it emerged the Brexit Party candidate Susan Lloyd had dropped out before the election was called due to work commitments.
Around 600 candidates were announced by Mr Farage last week but that number has vastly reduced today.
No replacement Portsmouth South candidate has been publicly announced.
In making his decision Mr Farage said he considered ‘the threat, particularly in the south and the south west, that we let in a load of Remainer Liberal Democrat MPs’.
A Survation poll put the Lib Dems ahead of the Tories with Labour in third place in Portsmouth South. The Brexit Party took 14 per cent of the vote share.
He told the press conference: ‘Our real concern about that is what would happen if the Remainer parties between them could get 325 seats.
'Well we know what would happen – there would be second referendum.’
Mr Farage said he mulled over the decision and last night saw an optimistic sign from prime minister Boris Johnson's ‘clear unequivocal statement' the transition period will not be extended beyond 2020.
He added Mr Johnson's claim he would aim for for a ‘super trade deal, a super Canada Plus trade deal, with no political alignment’ was a big change, and ‘sounds a bit more like the Brexit that we voted for’.
A Brexit Party spokesman told The News: ‘We are going to be standing someone in Portsmouth South.’
Labour’s Stephen Morgan won the seat in 2017 from Tory Flick Drummond.
The Greens Party is not standing a candidate so as to give Lib Dem Gerald Vernon-Jackson a stronger run.