The Brexit Party looks set to have a candidate for all of London’s 73 parliamentary constituencies after its leader, Nigel Farage, said it would contest every seat across the country with the possible exception of those currently held by MPs who want to leave the European Union but are opposed to Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
Most of the capital’s current MPs campaigned to remain in the EU, and none of those who wish to leave voted against the Johnson deal in the House of Commons.
Speaking at the launch of his party’s general election campaign, Farage said he wanted to “build a Leave alliance” with the Conservatives, but would only do so if Johnson ditched his deal in favour of what he terms a “clean break” from the EU, something the Tories have no intention of doing.
London Conservatives will be concerned that Brexit Party candidates will split the capital’s pro-Brexit vote, leaving their candidates more vulnerable to being unseated by Labour or Liberal Democrat challengers and lessening their chances of gaining London seats in the very few held by other parties with large percentages of Leave voters. A 40 per cent minority of Londoners voted Leave in the 2016 referendum.
Tory MPs defending their seats thought to be at risk from Labour include staunch Brexiters Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford & Woodford Green, Theresa Villiers in Chipping Barnet and possibly Johnson himself in Uxbridge & West Ruislip.
Both Labour and the Libs Dems are targeting Tory-held Wimbledon, Finchley & Golders Green, Chelsea & Fulham and Cities of London & Westminster, while the Lib Dems are the only likely challengers to firm Brexiter Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park and Tory vice chairman for the London region Paul Scully in Sutton & Cheam.
Farage’s insistence on only working in partnership with Conservatives who, in his word, “renounce” the Johnson deal seems to rule out any formal pact in the Dagenham & Rainham seat, a pro-Leave area, held by Labour’s Jon Cruddas, given that the seat’s Tory candidate, Havering Council leader Damian White, has endorsed the Johnson deal. The previous Tory candidate finished second there in 2017, only 4,652 votes behind with a substantially increased vote share. The candidate for UKIP, the party Farage used to lead, secured 3,246 votes.
Elliot Colburn, the Conservative candidate for Carshalton & Wallington, a marginal Lib Dem-held seat held by Tom Brake in another mostly Leave-voting part of the capital, has also spoken up for Johnson’s deal.
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