NIGEL Farage has insisted upon a pact with the Tories to prevent Remainer ‘rebels’ from scuppering Brexit.
In a sensational U-turn, the Brexit Party leader said ‘of course’ the groups must do a deal to stop the Eurosceptic vote from being split, if a snap election was called.
Mr Farage said he was increasingly confident there will be an arrangement and that Mr Johnson was ‘going in the right direction’.
Asked if there should be a pact between the Conservatives and Brexit Party, the MEP declared: 'Yes of course. Absolutely. And I am very open to that.'
Despite Mr Farage’s comments, Brexit Party parliamentary candidates from across the Portsmouth area have not yet been ordered to stand down.
However, sources have told The News the group could look to step down candidates in areas already controlled by prominent Tory Brexiteers.
Among them are the constituencies of Portsmouth North, controlled by former defence secretary Penny Mordaunt, and Fareham, held by ex-Brexit minister Suella Braverman.
But Portsmouth South is understood to remain in the firing line as Mr Farage’s party seeks to go head-to-head with Labour’s Stephen Morgan, who is the area’s MP.
Susan Lloyd, Brexit Party candidate in Portsmouth South, insisted: ‘We are definitely going to stand in Portsmouth South.’
Royal Navy veteran Mrs Lloyd added Mr Farage had briefed party members about his position on a ‘non-aggression pact’ at an event last month.
Weeks earlier, Mr Farage had told The News he would not support an arrangement between Tories in Portsmouth.
Mrs Lloyd added: ‘He said he was not against a deal with the Tories, it’s really up to them.
‘We want to put country before party. None of us are career politicians. When Nigel said we might have a pact and that in some areas some of us might have to stand down, everyone just roared. No-one minds.’
Councillor Donna Jones, Tory candidate in Portsmouth South welcomed Mr Farage’s comments, made in the Daily Mail, after previously saying the Conservative Party would ‘not do deals with other parties’ on her official Facebook account.
‘People have had enough, now is the time to move on, focus on Britain and deliver the democratic mandate from the referendum,’ she said.
‘If the Brexit Party choose not to field candidates against Penny and me this will significantly increase the chances of forming a government who will leave the EU.
‘Ultimately the decisions will be made by both party leaders and not on a local level.’
City Labour leader Stephen Morgan hit back and said: ‘I know many Portsmouth people who are deeply alarmed by the fact a mainstream party is now doing backroom deals with extremists previously banished to the fringes of murky politics.
‘While the Tories broker deals and negotiate to cling to power, I am staying focused on what is best for Portsmouth – preventing a damaging no deal.’