Boris Johnson has ruled out striking an election pact with the Brexit Party because Nigel Farage should “never be allowed anywhere near government”.
The Brexit Party took out a full page wraparound advertisement in The Daily Express on Wednesday outlining Farage’s “election offer” to help the prime minister win a majority and remain in No.10.
But a Downing Street spokesman said on Wednesday afternoon: “The PM will not be doing a deal with Nigel Farage.”
A senior Conservative source added: “Neither Nigel Farage or (political donor) Arron Banks are fit and proper persons and they should never be allowed anywhere near government.”
The move could prove controversial in the Tory party because hardline Brexiteers like Steve Baker have been insisting Johnson would have to strike a deal with Farage to win a majority if an election takes place before Britain leaves the EU.
Responding, Farage appeared keen to keep the offer open, insisting his benefactor Banks is not a member of the Brexit Party and stressing he does not want a job in government.
These look like comments from deep inside the bunker.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 11, 2019
1. Arron Banks is not in The Brexit Party.
2. I do not want a job in government, I just want to put country before party and deliver a clean break Brexit. https://t.co/sIUXJh9Q0G
Does the Downing Street spokesman want to play petty party politics or deliver on the wishes of 17.4 million people?— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 11, 2019
It’s time they made up their minds. https://t.co/wkYnGedcNx
Recognising the Tories’ vulnerability to the Leave vote being split between the two parties, Farage had offered a “non-aggression pact” which would see the Brexit Party fight northern Labour heartlands with the Tories standing aside, and vice versa in shire constituencies.
Farage made clear this would mean Johnson giving his full throated backing to a no-deal Brexit.
Read our takeover of today’s @Daily_Express!— The Brexit Party (@brexitparty_uk) September 11, 2019
We are ready to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson against the Remainer alliance in a General Election.
Does Boris have the courage? pic.twitter.com/avtcXOJx49
“We are ready to back prime minister Boris Johnson against the Remainer alliance in a general election,” the advert read.
“To seal our non-aggression pact, Boris must back a clean-break Brexit and forget about recycling Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement.
“Together we can rout the remainers and win a big majority in parliament for Brexit and democracy.
“Does Boris have the courage?”
The PM’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings has previously said the Vote Leave campaign he masterminded would have failed without Johnson keeping Farage off television screens in the final days of the referendum campaign
In a wide-ranging, 20,000 word piece in 2017, Cummings - the man credited with coining the “vote leave, take control” slogan - repeatedly condemned figures involved with Farage’s rival Brexit campaign, Leave.EU,
“Without Boris, Farage would have been a much more prominent face on TV during the crucial final weeks, probably the most prominent face,” he said.
“(We had to use Boris as leverage with the BBC to keep Farage off and even then they nearly screwed us as ITV did.)
“It is extremely plausible that this would have lost us over 600,000 vital middle class votes.”