Boost for Tories as Brexit Party candidate pulls out of key Labour marginal
A Brexit Party candidate in a key Labour marginal has dramatically stood down in order to improve the chances of the Conservatives winning the seat.
In a major boost for Boris Johnson, Rupert Lowe announced he would no longer be running in Dudley North just minutes after the close of nominations.
He said he was putting "country before party as it is highly conceivable my candidacy could allow Corbyn’s Momentum candidate to win".
Ian Austin retained the seat for Labour by just 22 votes at the 2017 general election.
The former minister has since quit the party and last week urged its voters to back the Tories.
Announcing his decision to pull out of the seat, Mr Lowe - a former chairman of Southampton Football Club - said: "I believe that if the Labour Party were to be elected in the forthcoming election, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell with Momentum behind them will devastate Britain and destroy all that decent people have achieved through their hard work and enterprise."
His decision increases the chances of the Conservatives winning the seat for the first time.
The announcement is also a blow for Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who had insisted that they would contest every Labour-held seat in the country, and is due to speak in Dudley on Friday morning.
Mr Farage has already performed a huge U-turn by announcing his party would not stand in the 317 seats the Tories won in 2017, having previously insisted they would run in every seat in England and Wales.