According to senior party figures, Nigel Farage is ready to strike an election pact with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver Brexit after holding secret talks, reports The Sun.
The Brexit Party leader is believed to have warned that Johnson it is the only option left as a safeguard against the “ragbag alliance” of Remainer MPs and the opposition Liberal Democrats and Labour toppling the Tories.
Nigel Farage’s price for striking an election deal with Boris Johnson is a “clean-break” Brexit, which Farage believes most Tories are in favour of, the sources claim.
Farage told The Sun on Sunday:
“It’s my view that Boris has no choice but to come and do a deal with the Brexit Party. I’m openly offering one but it has to be on the basis of him delivering a clean-break Brexit, which seems to be what he and most of his party want any way. To deliver Brexit, we must defeat Jeremy Corbyn and his remainer Labour Party. It is the Brexit Party which stands the best chance of taking the fight to Labour in its heartlands.”
The leader of the Brexit Party added:
“Together we would be unstoppable, rout the Remainers and deliver a large Brexit majority in Parliament. If Boris seizes the opportunity, he can be a hero.”
The “non-aggression pact”
The possibility of an alliance between the pro-Brexit wing of the Conservative Party, led by Boris Johnson, and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has long been the subject of debate.
Previously, Farage had ruled out a deal with the Conservatives, claiming he did not believe he could trust them.
With Brexit currently in limbo and Boris Johnson with his back up against the wall as he searches for ways to deliver on his EU exit pledges, Farage is willing to consider a “non-aggression pact” to give the PM the Commons majority required to take Britain out of the EU.
Such an election pact would entail the parties giving each other a free run in seats where they stood the best chance of winning. This scenario would avoid the prospect of splitting the vote.
Farage would not field candidates in Tory areas, over the risk of splitting the Leave vote and playing into Labour’s hands, while the Brexit Party would be given a free run in Leave-voting Labour seats where Tories are unpopular.
Boris Johnson also repeatedly ruled out any deal with Farage, insisting he is able to deliver his party to victory without his help.
However, current polling seems to suggest that the Brexit Party would be a vital ally.
Former Brexit minister Steve Baker has warned that Brexit would be “lost” without a pact, pointing out that the Tories were beaten in the recent Peterborough and Brecon by-elections due to the Brexit Party splitting their vote.
Benefits of alliance option for Boris Johnson
Alan Bailey, a UK-based political commentator, has shared his view of the likelihood of a deal being struck.
“My feeling is that this is going to happen. When Johnson became Prime Minister, he ruled out any alliances with the Brexit party, but he was in a much stronger position then,” said Bailey.
Bailey notes that Johnson has lost his parliamentary majority over the past few days. Many members of his own party have either voluntarily left or had the whip removed from them (a term which essentially means they are no longer eligible for election as members of the Conservative party) as punishment for voting against the government last week.
On Saturday night another cabinet minister, former home secretary Amber Rudd, resigned from the government and the Conservative party.
Said Bailey: “Without an alliance of some form Johnson will likely lose any upcoming general election”.
Bailey believes that while neither of Farage’s parties (UKIP and now the Brexit party) have not previously fared well in national elections, the next election would be very much about Brexit, Farage may do very well in the north of England where anti-Brexit sentiment appears strong.
“These votes should be enough to give Johnson an election victory and from there the mandate to get a no-deal Brexit, which he so clearly favours, as long as he has not been legally blocked from doing so in any legislation that may proceed an election,” he added.
Brexit in limbo
The current revelations come as Boris Johnson finds himself running out of options fast after the parliamentary opposition and Tory rebel MPs voted in favour of a bill aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit, which is soon expected to become law.
Johnson’s hopes of delivering a no-deal Brexit by holding a general election that could have increased his numbers in parliament were also scuppered when a majority of MPs voted against such a move this week.
Since then, the Prime Minister has suggested that he may be willing to defy the law to avoid extending the 31 October deadline, saying in a letter that was reportedly sent out to Tory MPs on the evening of 6 September that, “they just passed a law that would force me to beg Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline. This is something I will never do”.
Boris Johnson this week claimed he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than delay Brexit further.
A snap general election to break the Brexit limbo looks increasingly likely unless Boris Johnson is able to renegotiate a new withdrawal agreement with Brussels before the 31 October deadline.
In the event that an election occurs, the growing sentiment within both the Brexit Party and the pro-Brexit wing of the governing Conservatives is that a pact between both parties could be instrumental in averting a scenario where the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, teams up with other opposition parties to replace Johnson at No.10 Downing Street.