Shelagh Fogarty challenges Brexit Party chair over decision not to contest Tory seats

11 November 2019, 14:44

Shelagh Fogarty challenges Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice over the party's decision not to contest the 317 seats won by the Conservative Party in the last General Election.

Party leader Nigel Farage announced today that the Brexit Party would not focus their efforts on contesting the 317 Tory seats and instead concentrate on Labour-held seats.

However before the weekend Mr Farage pledged to put a candidate in every constituency. Shelagh asked chairman Richard Tice what caused this change of heart.

He said the party had been considering the right strategy to adopt and "the key thing that weighed on our minds very significantly was the risk of a second referendum which would be so damaging for trust and democracy, for jobs, for the economy."

Mr Tice said that ultimately this decision will "guarantee that there won't be a second referendum."

Shelagh questioned why there was absolute certainty on Friday that the party would "go after the Tories" and now the public are hearing this - "which is real?"

Nigel Farage had previously said he would put a candidate in every constituency
Nigel Farage had previously said he would put a candidate in every constituency. Picture: PA

The chairman said the party are concerned about a permanent extension to Brexit and having listened to senior Tory ministers, they have learnt that the Conservatives will not extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020 - he said the Tory's promises for Brexit will eradicate Tice's "most pressing concerns."

"Just days ago Nigel Farage strode on to the stage and placed himself as the man who will not be flexible on Brexit because flexibility is compromise, flexibility is sell-out, so what's changed?" asked Shelagh, and pointed out they've just handed the establishment 317 seats.

Mr Tice insisted that the party are still holding true to their principles as this choice to back down means they're preventing a second referendum. He said his promise to voters is that they will hold Tories to account in the Commons if they win the Labour-held seats.

Shelagh asked: "In those Labour leave seats that your party is going to challenge, just explain the appeal of this move from your perspective? If you are a leave supporter and the Brexit Party were not there, you'd presumably vote Conservatives?"

The chairman said that in these Labour tribal-minded strongholds they wouldn't vote Tory "in 1000 years" and want options, which the Brexit Party can give them.

This is a party that's going to agitate from the sidelines, Shelagh summarised.

Richard Tice said: "We are 6 months old, we won a national election in the Europeans, we started to change politics for good, we've held the Tories to account, and if we have MPs in the Commons, then we're not agitating from the sidelines, we're agitating from the heart of this and we will make a difference. And that's what we're there to do."