Brexit Party still set to fight Ipswich in 2019 General Election after pulling out of Tory seats
PUBLISHED: 12:39 11 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:15 11 November 2019
Ipswich is set to be the only seat in Suffolk or north Essex with a Brexit Party candidate after Nigel Farage announced his new party would not be challenging in any seats that returned a Tory MP in 2017.
That means there will be no Brexit Party candidate in any other seats in Suffolk - nor in any seats in north Essex. They all returned Conservative MPs in 2017.
It also means there will be no Brexit Party challenge in Clacton - the only seat UKIP has held in a General Election (in 2015) - and where it had been thought the new party could do well.
At a press conference Mr Farage said he would be focusing the Brexit Party's efforts on Labour-held seats.
"I will tell you now exactly what we are going to do," he told supporters in Hartlepool.
"The Brexit Party will not contest the 317 seats the Conservatives won at the last election. But what we will do is concentrate our total effort into all the seats that are held by the Labour Party, who have completely broken their manifesto pledge in 2017 to respect the result of the referendum.
"And we will also take on the rest of the Remainer parties. We will stand up and we will fight them all."
That could still be bad news for the Conservatives in Ipswich and other marginal seats where they are hoping to make gains from Labour.
Sandy Martin, who is defending Ipswich for Labour, said he did not think The Brexit Party would have much impact in Ipswich if it stood: "I am not worried about what they are doing - my focus is on meeting voters and telling them why they should vote for the Labour Party in the election."
His Conservative opponent Tom Hunt agreed that the presence of the Brexit Party on the ballot paper would not make much difference in the election: "I have been around many homes and everyone who wants to see Brexit seems to be supporting the Conservatives anyway."
Mr Farage said the Prime Minister's move towards a free trade deal with the European Union that did not include regulatory alignment was a "significant change" to the approach on Brexit.
"He said we would negotiate a super Canada-plus trade deal with no political alignment," said the Brexit Party leader.
"That is a huge change. Ever since Mrs May's abject speech in Florence, we have been aiming at a close and special partnership with the European Union. We had been aiming to stay part of many of its agencies.
"Boris last night signalled a very clear change in direction. I thought to myself overnight, 'That sounds a bit more like the Brexit we voted for'."