Nigel Farage confirms he will not stand in general election
Nigel Farage has announced he will not stand in the general election - despite insisting he would finally become an MP if he did,
The former Ukip leader said he instead wanted to remain an MEP to "fight for Brexit in Europe".
Speculation had been mounting that he would stand in South Thanet, the seat he controversially lost to the Conservatives in 2015. It was his seventh unsuccessful attempt to enter the Commons.
Mr Farage's announcement, in an article for the Daily Telegraph, came just hours after Douglas Carswell - who defected to Ukip from the Tories but had a long-running feud with Mr Farage - announced he would not be standing for re-election in Clacton.
In his article, Mr Farage said: "Perhaps even more tempting is to stand in Clacton, which is now Carswell-free, and perhaps the number one Eurosceptic constituency in the country by demographics.
“It would be a very easy win and for me, a personal vindication to get into the House of Commons after all these years of standing in elections."
He added: "If I compare the platform I have in Strasbourg to being a backbench MP, there is frankly no comparison.
"The Brexit negotiations will take place in Brussels and the European Parliament will not only have a large impact on them, but ultimately will have the right of veto any deal at the end of the two-year process.
"I believe I can use my profile in European politics to put real pressure on MEPs to vote for a sensible deal with the UK. Just weeks after we are due to leave, there will be the next set of European elections."
Mr Farage also attacked the Tories' election strategy - bit insisted the party was heading for a landslide.
"Today we are told that unless you vote for Mrs May, a progressive alliance of Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP will form the next government and reverse the Brexit process," he said.
"For the moment, there are many - including some Ukip supporters - who believe it. As the next few weeks unfold, and the sheer ineptitude of Corbyn’s Labour is witnessed by the public, the Tory poll lead will be of such a magnitude that the pro-EU progressive alliance argument will disappear.
"The certainty of a large Conservative majority and knowing that the Remainers have been trounced, will see Ukip voters coming home."
Mr Farage this morning said Ukip leader Paul Nuttall had "six weeks to prove himself" during the election campaign. But he insisted he would give him his full backing in the run-up to 8 June.
He said: "I will help and support Paul Nuttall through this time and I expect him to emerge as a strong voice for what many millions want."