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Brexit badboy Arron Banks claims parties have held secret talks

Brexit party leader Nigel Farage is understood to have pulled out of a planned television performance

Senior allies of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson have held secret last-minute talks in an effort to strike a deal that would stop the Brexit Party splitting the Tory vote and letting Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a close confidant of Mr Farage has held talks with senior Tory ‘power brokers’ over a deal to pull the vast majority of Brexit Party candidates out of the Election.

In return, Mr Johnson would promise to strike a harder deal with Brussels after winning a majority.

The offer, made by former Ukip treasurer Andrew Reid, comes as friends of Mr Farage say that he is ‘feeling the heat’ over his defiant insistence on fielding hundreds of Brexit Party candidates.

Mr Farage is understood to have pulled out of a planned television performance this morning as a Mail on Sunday poll shows that support for the Brexit Party has nearly halved over the past week, from 11 per cent to six per cent.

The secret talks are revealed today by Arron Banks, formerly Mr Farage’s closest political ally, who objects to his strategy.

Last night, Mr Farage told this newspaper that he was ‘not directly involved’ in talks with the Tories, but warned that the ‘clock was ticking down’ to the final deadline for candidate nominations on Thursday. He added: ‘I’m not asking for much’.

Senior allies of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson have held secret last-minute talks in an effort to strike a deal that would stop the Brexit Party splitting the Tory vote

Senior allies of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson have held secret last-minute talks in an effort to strike a deal that would stop the Brexit Party splitting the Tory vote

The talks come as chorus of voices from within the Brexit Party call for Mr Farage to perform a U-turn over his plans to field candidates in 600 seats.

It is understood that under the proposal made by Mr Reid, Mr Farage would accept the Withdrawal Agreement which Mr Johnson negotiated to govern our exit from the EU, as long as the PM made changes to the Political Declaration covering the UK’s post-Brexit relations with the EU. If Mr Johnson cut the ‘transition period’ from 2022 to December 2020 and ensured that the UK would no longer be bound by Brussels regulations after that, then Mr Farage would stand down his candidates.

Sources said the discussions between Mr Reid and the Tory power brokers – which the Conservatives have not commented on – had been ‘heated’.

In return, Mr Johnson would promise to strike a harder deal with Brussels after winning a majority

In return, Mr Johnson would promise to strike a harder deal with Brussels after winning a majority

Mr Banks writes: ‘A compromise has been proposed which would see Nigel ordering those of his candidates who simply cannot win to stand aside – but only on condition that various entirely realistic changes are made to the deal which Boris negotiated with Brussels’.

The former Ukip and Leave.eu donor says: ‘The time for splitting hairs is over. It is now or never…

‘It is time for Nigel and his supporters to be realistic. If he ploughs ahead and refuses to stand down his party’s candidates – the ones who stand no chance at all of winning – then he will help Corbyn form the next Government.

‘If Brexit is lost because the vote is split, then Nigel will have destroyed what he has spent years working to achieve’.

Mr Banks says that Mr Farage trusts Mr Reid as an ‘honest broker’ to carry out the talks. He previously acted as an intermediary between former MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless when they defected to Ukip from the Conservative Party in September 2014.

Mr Banks adds: ‘We must all remember this: it is better to continue fighting for the right type of Brexit from the Government benches than to open the door of No 10 to a Marxist rabble hellbent on staying in the EU.

‘That is a prospect that should clear minds and cool egos’.

Yesterday, Peter Udale, who resigned on Thursday as the Brexit Party’s candidate for the Cotswolds over Mr Farage’s stance, called for a pact to avoid splitting the Tory vote.

He said: ‘A Corbyn-led Government could irreversibly change the face of Britain. The Brexit Party must stand down candidates wherever they risk making Corbyn our Prime Minister. Even if the Tories will not agree to a deal, Nigel Farage must put country before party’.

And yesterday, Philip Walling, a former Brexit Party candidate in the key battleground seat of Workington, Cumbria, urged former colleagues to stand down.

‘A Labour government would not only halt Brexit permanently, it would plunge this country into an economic nightmare,’ he wrote in the Daily Mail. ‘I cannot imagine anything more hideous. I plead with every other Brexit candidate to do what I have done: examine your conscience in the cold light of reason. And if you think you risk splitting the Tory vote, then for God’s sake stand down.’

ARRON BANKS: For the sake of Brexit and for the sake of our country we MUST unite

The millions of voters praying that we will finally leave the European Union can be forgiven if they feel concerned. They have every right to be.

Brexit Party supporters distrust Boris Johnson’s deal and worry that it will betray any hope of a clean departure from Brussels.

Conservative voters, meanwhile, fear that Nigel Farage’s decision to contest every seat at the General Election will split the vote so badly it could open the door of No 10 Downing Street to Jeremy Corbyn.

If Conservative fears come true and they fail to form a Government on December 12, Labour has enough friends among the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats to form a pro-Remain administration instead.

The secret talks were revealed today by Arron Banks, formerly Mr Farage’s closest political ally, who objects to his strategy

The secret talks were revealed today by Arron Banks, formerly Mr Farage’s closest political ally, who objects to his strategy

And if that disaster should take place, we can say goodbye to Brexit altogether.

The stakes could not be higher, and while the Conservatives refuse to consider any sort of compromise with the Brexit Party, the outlook is bleak.

However, behind the scenes a compromise has been proposed which would see Nigel ordering those of his candidates who cannot win to stand aside – but only on condition that changes are made to the deal that Boris negotiated with Brussels to stop us being shackled to EU rules.

It is a proposal which I urge our Prime Minister to accept. As a lifelong Brexiteer and co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, I believe there is no alternative.

I sympathise with how Brexiteers are feeling – an Election strategy that splits the vote in such an egregious way is codswallop. The time for splitting hairs is over. It is now or never.

If we refuse to get out while we can, then Remainers will hijack our exit. They will delay us still further and, ultimately, they will prevent us from leaving at all.

It is time for Nigel and his supporters to be realistic.

If he ploughs ahead and refuses to stand down his party’s candidates – the ones who stand no chance of winning – then he will help Corbyn form the next Government.

A Remain-alliance Government is an all-too-realistic prospect, and if Brexit is lost because the vote is split, Nigel will have destroyed what he has spent years working to achieve.

Does he want to be remembered as the tireless campaigner who finally allowed us to leave the EU? Or the man who brought us to the brink of Brexit and no further? This is why the current talks are so important.

Senior figures in the Conservative Party, including a Cabinet Minister, have been meeting high-flying city-lawyer Andrew Reid, who has strong connections to both the Brexit Party and the Tories.

Reid is widely respected. Nigel sees him as an honest broker as he was the intermediary between former MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless when they defected to Ukip from the Conservative Party in September 2014. The suggestion is that, in return for standing down a number of his candidates, Nigel will demand changes to the political declaration (a part of Boris’s deal) to ensure Britain could trade freely in the future.

I understand that Nigel is minded to agree to these terms – but only if the political declaration really does push us towards a free trade deal, unshackling us from Brussels’ restrictive, anti-trade measures.

Last night Andrew told me that the talks had been robust.

But they were also frustrating, he added, because the Tories don’t seem to grasp that if they don’t form a non-aggression pact, their seats in the South of England and the West Country will be taken by the Liberal Democrats.

And that would make a Tory majority impossible.

We must also face the truth that many of Nigel’s 600 candidates do not stand a hope in Hell of winning – only of stealing precious Tory votes.

Both sides are boxed in. To Nigel, Boris’s treaty is not a real Brexit and that is why he has remained steadfast. I have seen the toll it has taken on him over the past few weeks as he has battled on. The Tories, meanwhile, feel stuck because they cannot bear to capitulate to Nigel, the one person Boris’s advisers hate more than Corbyn himself.

These new talks are encouraging but there is still much work to be done to ensure the two sides join forces.

We must all remember this: it is better to continue fighting for the right type of Brexit from the Government benches than to open the door of No 10 to a Marxist rabble hellbent on staying in the EU.

That is a prospect that should clear minds and cool egos. For the sake of Brexit and for the sake of our great country, we must unite.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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