Nigel Farage said Labour and the Tories should be ‘very worried’ as he unveiled the Brexit Party’s potential first MP who he hopes will capitalise on widespread fury at the two main parties.
Businessman Mike Greene, 54, who has appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire, will stand for Mr Farage’s new party in its first shot at a seat in Westminster.
He will contest the marginal city of Peterborough at a June 6 by-election called after voters booted out disgraced former Labour MP after she was jailed for lying to police.
Onasanya won the city from the Tories by just 607 votes in 2017 and ordinarily Theresa May’s party would fancy getting it back.
But both the Conservatives and Labour are suffering in the opinion polls over Brexit, raising the possibility that the Brexit Party might sneak their first Westminster seat.
Mr Farage said he would not make any ‘silly predictions’ about how his party would fare in the by-election, but added: ‘I think we’re going to do very well.
‘We’re going to give it our best shot but that’s the best I can say at this stage.
‘We’ll give it our best shot and I think the Conservative and Labour parties will be very worried by the presence of Mike Greene as we’ve got a candidate who’s extremely well-known and respected in this constituency.’
Mr Greene and Mr Farage only met for the first time on Tuesday night at a rally in Peterborough.
Mr Greene and Mr Farage only met for the first time on Tuesday night at a rally in Peterborough
Mr Farage said he would not make any ‘silly predictions’ about how his party would fare in the by-election, but added: ‘I think we’re going to do very well’
Mr Grene said: ‘The reason I support the Brexit Party is they’re the only party that in my view has absolute clarity and focus on what Brexit is.
Mike Greene, a lifelong Tory supporter, will stand as the Brexit Party’s candidate in the Peterborough by-election next month. He is pictured in a My Local store. He purchased the convenience store business from Morrisons for £25 million in 2015
Speaking at the launch event today Mr Greene said: ‘I find it quite disgusting in a way, a disgrace that this by-election even has to happen.
‘The people of Peterborough chose Fiona Onasanya in good faith that she would work for them, would deliver for them and I never saw her in this city … in fact we heard more about her as a city when she was in prison than we ever did when she was an MP.’
The lifelong Conservative voter said he first met Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice ‘a week ago last Sunday’, then had dinner with Mr Farage after a Brexit Party rally in Peterborough on Tuesday.
‘The reason I support the Brexit Party is they’re the only party that in my view has absolute clarity and focus on what Brexit is,’ he said.
‘We need to write our own laws, we need to be in control of our own trade, we need to be in control of our own borders.’
He added that he had ‘always been passionate about politics but I’m not a politician’.
‘I want to use my business experience to make things happen,’ he said.
‘I want to use my lack of political experience to question why things go so slowly.’
He spoke of his desire to create a university in Peterborough, having been to a tough school after moving to the city aged 11.
Asked why he was standing, he said: ‘If you don’t stand for something, you’re going to fall for anything and I can no longer fall for the lies, betrayal and deceit that our current political parties give in this country.’
The seat in Peterborough became available after Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was ousted in a petition.
Last year she was jailed for perverting the course of justice after lying to avoid a speeding ticket.
The seat has traditionally been a battle between Labour and Conservative – in 2017 Onasanya won with a margin of just 607 over long-serving Tory MP Stewart Jackson.
Mr Greene was an early investor in music app Shazam, which was acquired by Apple last September for around £308,000,000 ($400,000,000).
He supported the Conservatives all his life – but after Theresa May failed to take Britain out of the European Union on 29th March his view changed.
The seat in Peterborough became available after Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was ousted in a petition. In January she was jailed for perverting the course of justice after lying to avoid a speeding ticket
Mr Greene appears as a single-issue candidate with his main priority being enabling Brexit to go ahead, then discussing policy later.
A rags to riches businessman, Mr Greene was bought up on a council estate in Luton where he had to share a bed with his two brothers.
He worked as a paperboy and moved to Peterborough aged 11, where after leaving his state school he went onto work as a retail consultant before setting up his own company – which he sold in 2012.
All candidates for the by-election have to be declared before 4pm on Thursday, which is the deadline for nominations.
Candidates announced so far include Lisa Forbes for Labour, Paul Bristow for the Conservatives, Beki Sellick for the Lib Dems, Joseph Wells for the Greens, John Whitby for Ukip, Patrick O’Flynn for the SDP and Alan ‘Howling Laud’ Hope for the Monster Raving Loony Party.
Renew, UKEUP and Change UK have also indicated plans to field a candidate.