Right-wing, anti-immigrant eurosceptic populist Nigel Farage has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to follow Donald Trump’s advice and join forces with his Brexit Party in the UK’s pre-Christmas general election.
Farage opened his election campaign on Friday by issuing a threat to Johnson: The Brexit Party would contest every seat in the UK unless the prime minister ditches his EU divorce deal and agrees to an electoral alliance.
Farage cast his demand as an offer of a non-aggression pact, but it was swiftly rejected by Johnson’s Conservative Party.
“I will say this to Boris Johnson: Drop the deal because it is not Brexit, drop the deal because as weeks go by and people discover what it is you will have signed up, they will not like it,” Farage told reporters at his campaign launch. “This is not Brexit.”
Farage, who has failed in each of his seven bids to win a seat in the UK Parliament, also hosts a radio phone-in show – which on Thursday featured a call from none other than the US president himself.
Trump urged Johnson and Farage to “get together” in the election campaign and forge “an unstoppable force” – and warned that opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn would be “so bad for your country”.
Trump, in what is thought to be an unprecedented foreign intervention in UK politics during an election period, said that Johnson’s European Union withdrawal deal meant that “under certain aspect … you can’t trade” with the US.
“Without wanting to hurt Boris Johnson, he told the truth about this shocking, awful EU treaty,” Farage told LBC radio. “It’s doubtful even by 2023, we would even be in a position to have a trade deal with the USA.
“If that applies to America, that applies to Japan, it applies to India, it applies to Australia. For goodness sake, Boris, drop the deal and let’s start again with a clean sheet.”
Farage has a record of exerting pressure on Conservative leaders with the threat of poaching their traditional voters.
Opinion polls show the Conservatives have a healthy lead over Labour, but also that more than 10 percent of voters back the Brexit Party – enough to split the pro-Brexit vote and either hand victory to Labour or leave Parliament at an impasse with a minority government.
Farage proposed that if the Conservatives did not contest about 150 seats where he thought the Brexit Party had a better chance of winning, he would stand aside in the remaining 500. He gave Johnson until November 14 to consider the offer.
Farage, who has yet to declare whether he will stand for an eighth time as a parliamentary candidate, helped force former prime minister David Cameron to call the Brexit referendum – and then played a lead role in the campaign to leave the EU.
The Conservatives’ rejection of his electoral pact meant that Farage on Friday effectively declared war on both major parties, vowing to fight for “leave” voters in Labour and Conservative seats across the English Midlands and the north as well as in Wales.
Al Jazeera and news agencies