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General election: Farage says Brexit Party will not fight all seats

Reports emerged today that Nigel Farage has decided not to stand Brexit Party general election candidates in every constituency across Britain, announcing the party will not contest the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017. Describing it as a ‘unilateral Leave alliance’, the stance represents a boost for Boris Johnson’s party for the 12 December general election.

Image © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Whether this removes the prospect of splitting the pro-Brexit vote entirely however, remains to be seen, as the forthcoming election is one of the most unpredictable ever held and polling experts have said it may not prove decisive to the outcome, as Mr Johnson's candidates will still face Brexit Party rivals in the crucial Leave-backing Labour seats which the Tories must win in order to secure an overall majority in the Commons.

Mr Johnson told Sky News he had “absolutely not” done a deal with Farage, adding: “I’m glad that there is a recognition that there is only one way to get Brexit done and that is to vote for the Conservatives.”

The Brexit Party leader has been accused of “bottling it” by supporters of continued EU membership, who stepped up calls for Remainers to vote tactically to avoid a Johnson majority. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "One week ago Donald Trump told Nigel Farage to make a pact with Boris Johnson. Today, Trump got his wish. This Trump alliance is Thatcherism on steroids and could send £500 million a week from our NHS to big drugs companies. It must be stopped."

Mr Farage has repeatedly denounced Mr Johnson’s withdrawal agreement with Brussels, insisting it did not deliver Brexit and would not allow the UK to “take back control”. But he has come under severe pressure not to split the Leave vote, with former ally Arron Banks setting up a tactical voting website urging Brexit supporters to vote for the Conservatives and not for Mr Farage’s party.

In a speech in Hartlepool, the Brexit Party leader said he had decided overnight that fighting all 632 seats in England, Scotland and Wales was likely to lead to large numbers of gains by Remain-backing parties including the Liberal Democrats with a hung parliament and second referendum “by far the most likely outcome”. He added that he had been reassured by “a very clear change of direction” signalled by Mr Johnson in a video posted on social media on Sunday evening, in which the PM promised to negotiate a “super Canada-plus” free trade agreement with the EU and rule out any extension of talks on future relations beyond the end of 2020.

"I think our action, this announcement today, prevents a second referendum from happening,” said Mr Farage. "And that to me, I think right now, is the single most important thing in our country. So in a sense we now have a Leave alliance, it's just that we've done it unilaterally.

"We've decided ourselves that we absolutely have to put country before party and take the fight to Labour." He said the Brexit Party will now "concentrate our total effort into all the seats that are held by the