Nigel Farage has suffered backlash today over his decision to stand down hundreds of election candidates in Tory-held seats.
On Monday, the Brexit Party leader announced the party would not stand against 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017.
Today, the Brexit Party’s sole MEP for Scotland, Louis Stedman-Bryce, announced he would not contest the Glasgow North East seat, held by Labour, in protest at the decision to stand down so many prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs).
1/2 - I joined the Brexit Party to change politics for good and uphold democracy and I do not trust @BorisJohnson to deliver the type of Brexit I voted for. I believe that the deal he has proposed would be devastating to our country and our future prosperity.— Louis Stedman-Bryce (@Lstedmanbryce) November 12, 2019
2/2- So it is with a heavy heart that I have taken the decision not to run in the upcoming general election. Whilst I supported a localised agreement with the Tories in Scotland to help prevent the onslaught of the SNP, I cannot support standing down PPC's across all Tory seats.— Louis Stedman-Bryce (@Lstedmanbryce) November 12, 2019
Mr Farage was also criticised by an angry Brexit Party election candidate this morning.
Robert Wheal, who was set to contest the Tory-held Arundel seat in West Sussex, told LBC’s Nick Ferrari today that the party’s candidates had been dropped “like a stone”.
Mr Wheal told LBC the Brexit Party had made it clear they would step down if Boris Johnson dropped his Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union and instead pursued no-deal.
"But what we have here is absolute codswallop,” he said.
"Half the Brexit Party supporters have worked their socks off for that party and he's dropped them like a stone at 12 o'clock yesterday.”
Alexandra Phillips, a Brexit Party MEP for South-east England, tweeted this morning that she had been “disenfranchised by my own party”.
I will be one of millions of people who will not vote at all in the General Election. That breaks my heart. I have voted in every election since I was 18 and been involved in politics for over a decade. And I have been disenfranchised by my own party.— Alexandra Phillips MEP (@BrexitAlex) November 12, 2019
She told the Victoria Derbyshire show that because her own party will not be standing in her constituency, she was going to be “be one of millions I assume who will also find that when it comes to their first choice party they’re not going to be on the ballot paper”.
‘I cannot vote for the Brexit Party – I’m hardly going to cast my vote for a rival party’@BrexitAlex on why she will not be voting in next month’s General Election.https://t.co/5V7oW2OK0V pic.twitter.com/2FB2lW2YsL— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) November 12, 2019
But she has been criticised by fellow Brexit Party MEP Lance Forman, who urged her to vote regardless.
Alex. You are not 16.— Lance Forman MEP (@LanceForman) November 12, 2019
What’s the point in spending your life fighting for democracy and then not voting.
But Ms Phillips hit back in a separate tweet this afternoon.
Would you like to hold the biro for me? Parties must earn support. I expect people to vote on the virtues of the party they choose as a personal private choice. It’s not for you to coerce me to vote for a party I was NOT elected to represent. Perhaps YOU should think about that https://t.co/5WF52fzllZ— Alexandra Phillips MEP (@BrexitAlex) November 12, 2019
Another candidate, Stephen Petty, who was set to stand in Walsall North, told the Express and Star he felt he’d “had the rug pulled from under me” after finding out he would not contest the seat on the news.
Meanwhile, Aaron Hudson, who was due to stand in Stourbridge before being told to stand down, said he had been offered the chance to stand for West Bromwich East.
The seat belonged to Tom Watson, who quit as Labour’s deputy leader and as an MP last week.
Mr Hudson refused the offer, however, and told Yahoo News UK: "For me this was always about righting the wrongs done my to home town and standing for the people here as one of the people.
“Patriotic, soppy and romantic I know, but I never had ambitions to be a politician, I'm just fed up of good every day people being screwed over by them."
Announcing the decision to not contest the 317 seats won by the Tories in 2017, Mr Farage said yesterday: "We've decided ourselves that we absolutely have to put country before party and take the fight to Labour.”