A Brexit Party candidate has branded Nigel Farage’s tactical decision not to contest Tory-held seats to avoid splitting the Leave vote as a “disgrace to politics”.
Robert Wheal was due to fight in the Arundel and South Downs constituency but was stood down as the seat is currently held by the Conservatives.
In a series of angry tweets in the wake of Mr Farage’s announcement on Monday, Mr Wheal said the Brexit Party leader was putting himself ahead of the country.
“It’s putting Nigel before the country. He will go down in infamy, letting down so many good people with whom he sought their trust. He is finished as a politician.”
He added: “All that Farage has exposed is his duplicity to so many supporters who had put their faith in him.”
Mr Wheal said Leave supporters could “kiss goodbye” to Brexit following the decision and vowed to spoil his ballot paper.
Speaking to LBC radio on Tuesday morning, he said: “My aim has always been to get out of Europe. Clean break.”
He added: “I’ve always been very critical of the (Brussels) regime.
“It’s unelected, as you all know. It spends our money as it sees fit – wastes most of it.
“It was made very clear to us all at the first Brexit Party rally that we will put country before party and that, if Farage managed to arrange a deal with Boris Johnson that he would agree to drop his rotten Withdrawal Agreement and take on a no-deal, we would all stand down and support him.
“But what we have here is absolute codswallop.”
He continued: “Farage hasn’t even got a deal. This was a golden opportunity to get Brexit. The Tories aren’t offering Brexit. They’re offering ‘Brino’ – Brexit in name only.”
Mr Wheal said the current Withdrawal Agreement is a “classic Brussels trap”.
He denied that splitting the Leave vote risked a second referendum, describing it as “just more Remainer Project Fear”.
“Half the Brexit Party supporters have worked their socks off for that party and he’s dropped them like a stone at 12 o’clock yesterday,” he said.
His outburst comes in the wake of the former Brexit Party candidate for Harlow’s decision to stand as an independent Brexiteer.
Neil Greaves said the Brexit Party leader had been “outmanoeuvred” and encouraged his fellow candidates to follow his example.
The 52-year-old told the PA news agency: “Nigel has let Brexiteers down … he should be standing up for the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit.
“I don’t regard Boris Johnson’s deal as Brexit. It’s not even close.
“Farage has been totally outmanoeuvred and out-negotiated without Boris (Johnson) even having to say anything.”
The Essex constituency voted 68% to leave in the EU referendum, while Conservative Robert Halfon, who won the seat by more than 7,000 votes in 2017, opted for Remain.
Mr Greaves described Mr Halfon as a “Remainer” and said pulling out of the race would mean there “won’t be a Leave option for Harlow”.
Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips said she had been “disenfranchised by my own party.”
Brexit Party candidate Wayne Bayley said “Nigel has sold us all down the river in exchange for a peerage.”
Fellow Brexit Party candidate Ruth Jolley said she “respected” Mr Farage’s decision but was “disappointed” that the people of her South West Norfolk constituency will not be able to vote for a Brexit Party candidate.
“For me the Brexit Party was about more than Brexit,” she told PA.
“It was a chance to change politics for good and shake up our institutions.”
The former civil servant, who now runs a pet care business, said she will continue to campaign for Brexit Party candidates elsewhere but will not vote in the election.
“I couldn’t vote for those who are standing in my constituency in all good conscience,” she said.
“I couldn’t vote for (local Conservative candidate and Cabinet minister) Liz Truss because I do think the Tories have negotiated a terrible deal.”