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Nigel Farage declares himself a Brexit Party MEP

The party can contest elections in the UK – and potentially in the European Parliament.

Brexit Kirsty O'Connor Kirsty O'Connor

PROMINENT BREXITEER NIGEL Farage has declared himself as an “MEP for the Brexit party” this afternoon.

The former Ukip leader accused the government of “betraying Brexit” and called on people to join his Brexit Party, which was formally recognised by the UK’s Electoral Commission last Friday 8 February.

Recognition by the Electoral Commission means the party can now contest elections in Britain – and potentially in the European Parliament if Brexit is delayed beyond 29 March.

“The party was founded with my full support and with the intention of fighting the European election on 23 May if Brexit has not been delivered by then,” Farage told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

He said he would stand for election, adding that the party had received “hundreds of applications” from other would-be candidates, and “significant” funds had been pledged.

“The engine is running,” he said.

In December, Farage left the UK Independence Party (Ukip) which he had co-founded and turned into a hugely influential force as its leader.

He fell out with the current Ukip leadership after it appointed a far-right activist, Tommy Robinson, as an adviser in December. The party is also languishing in the polls.

The Brexit Party “was registered on 5 February,” a spokesman for the Electoral Commission told AFP.

It is led by Catherine Blaiklock, a former Ukip official and parliamentary candidate, who told the Telegraph she expected “thousands” of people from the ruling Conservatives to defect.

Prime Minister Theresa May is currently trying to persuade MPs to support her plan for a negotiated withdrawal from the EU, but many of her own Conservatives want a cleaner break.

The continued political impasse has prompted speculation Britain could delay Brexit – something hardline eurosceptics oppose.

“I sincerely hope that this prospect is recognised by both the Conservative party and the (opposition) Labour party as a threat,” Farage said of the new venture.

He added: “All they have to do is deliver a proper Brexit – the one which 17.4 million people voted for in June 2016. Otherwise, this threat will turn into a promise.”

© – AFP 2019, with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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