Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has vowed to target the five million Labour voters who backed Leave in the referendum as he unveiled his party’s candidates for the General Election.
Mr Farage dismissed accusations he would split the pro-Brexit vote by running against the Tories, saying Boris Johnson’s deal was “not Brexit”.
Speaking at an event in Westminster, he accused the Conservatives of “conceited arrogance” after the Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg urged him to step aside and “leave the field”.
Mr Rees-Mogg warned he was in danger of snatching “defeat from the jaws of victory” for the campaign to leave the EU.
“Sell-out” Tory plan
However, Mr Farage – who offered to work with Mr Johnson in a “patriotic alliance” if he dropped his deal with Brussels – said the Tory plan was a “sell-out”.
“We won’t split the vote because we will be the only people actually offering Brexit, leaving the European Union and its institutions,” he said.
He said that when he been the leader of Ukip, they had done “far more harm” to the Labour Party than to the Conservatives.
The Brexit Party would now be focusing, he said, on those Leave-voting Labour constituencies who were represented by pro-Remain MPs.
I will be out in Labour constituencies
“Those five million are the most vulnerable group of voters to the Brexit Party in this country,” he said.
“I will be out in those Labour constituencies. I’ll be in the East Midlands, I’ll be in South Wales. I’ll be in the North East. I want the country to know the sheer extent of Labour betrayal.”
There was dismay among senior Tories after Mr Farage confirmed he intended to run candidates in more than 600 constituencies.
Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
Mr Rees-Mogg insisted Mr Johnson’s deal represented a “complete Brexit” as he called on Mr Farage to recognise the campaign to leave the EU had been a success.
“I think he would be well-advised to recognise that that battle he won. He should be really proud of his political career,” he told LBC radio.
“It would be a great shame if he carries on fighting after he has already won to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
“I understand why Nigel Farage would want to carry on campaigning because he has been campaigning for the best part of 30 years and it must be hard to retire from the field. But that is what he ought to do.”
Fantastic few days
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn told the weekly meeting of the shadow cabinet that Labour had enjoyed a “fantastic first few days” to the campaign.
“This election is a chance to bring our divided country back together while the Tories and the Lib Dems only seek further division,” he said.