Humiliation for Nigel Farage as four Brexit Party MEPs quit to back Conservatives
Four Brexit Party MEPs have handed in their resignations in order to back the Conservatives at the general election.
Annunziata Rees-Mogg, Lance Forman, John Longworth and Lucy Harris said only the Tories could be trusted to deliver Brexit.
The move is a shattering blow for Nigel Farage, who has seen his party's poll rating plummet throughout the election campaign.
The four rebels delivered a resignation letter to Mr Farage on Thursday morning.
It comes as Mr Longworth was stripped of the party whip on Wednesday for “undermining” the leader’s strategy.
Mr Longworth, who has previously called on Mr Farage to only stand candidates in a small number of seats, said: “For those who want Brexit, Boris Johnson’s deal is the only option available, Labour does not have a plan.”
And Ms Harris added: “The Brexit Party has played an essential role in getting us to a point where Brexit can actually happen, now it’s time to get Brexit done.”
Following the Brexit Party’s success in winning May's European elections, Mr Farage declared he would stand candidates in every Westminster seat.
But last month, he announced the party would stand aside in the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017 in order to boost the chances of a pro-Brexit majority in the Commons.
Responding to the MEPs' resignations, Mr Farage said: "Whilst we are disappointed that four of our MEPs don’t seem to understand that we both saved the Conservative Party from large-scale losses to the Liberal Democrats in the south and south-west of England but we are also hammering the Labour Leave vote in its traditional heartlands, making it much easier for the Conservatives to win many of those seats.
"The only vote on the Leave side that is currently being split is in areas such as Barnsley, the South Wales Valleys, Doncaster and Hartlepool, where there is a risk that the Tories will split our vote."
A Brexit Party spokesman said: "We also note that one of the MEPs is the sister of a Cabinet minister, another has a partner who works in the office of the same Cabinet minister and yet another is a personal friend of both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
"In the case of John Longworth, who was for years the firmest advocate of World Trade Organisation withdrawal that we have ever met, he underwent a metamorphosis into being a supporter of the new EU treaty following two days of meetings in London. We hope that Mr Longworth is well rewarded for his actions."
Naomi Smith, chief executive of pro-EU campaign group Best For Britain, said: "As if it wasn't obvious before, the Tory party have completely morphed into the Brexit Party.
"They are now not just stealing policies, they're also taking people.
"It's clear that a vote for the Conservatives or the Brexit Party means the hardest form of Brexit possible, leading to economic chaos.
"The only way to stop that outcome is to vote tactically, supporting the candidate with the best chance of beating the Tories or the Brexit Party."