Brexit news: Nigel Farage accused of hypocrisy after claiming Article 50 petition signatures are 'coming from Russia'
Ex-Ukip leader Nigel Farage has been accused of hypocrisy after claiming that many signatures to a record-breaking petition to cancel Brexit came from Russia and the majority for a no-deal exit was increasing by the week.
The prominent Brexiteer said he was “disgusted” by the news that Brexit would be delayed, which he claimed would be seen by millions of people as a “failure of leadership” by Theresa May.
Mr Farage, who has taken the reins of a new Brexit party, also sought to dismiss criticism of his sparsely attended pro-Leave march, saying it was the “symbolism” that mattered.
He also made unsubstantiated claims that there is a “very, very clear majority” for a no-deal Brexit and “it’s gaining a few per cent every single week”.
Mr Farage made the claims despite more than 3 million people have signed a petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked, and ahead of a major demonstration in favour of a Final Say referendum on Saturday, organised in partnership with The Independent.
Labour MP Jo Stevens, who supports the Best for Britain campaign, said: “The hypocrisy of Farage and his billionaire bully boys knows no bounds. He and his gang broke electoral law and are under investigation for Russian collusion.
“With around 3 million signatures already, the revoke petition shows the genuine depth of anger in the country at the government’s shambolic mismanagement of Brexit – and the damage which has already been done.
“Of the emails I’m receiving from worried constituents, 95 per cent are calling on MPs to revoke Article 50 and stop the clock on this process to prevent a disastrous no-deal Brexit.”
Mr Farage told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that there was a “very big shift going on in the country” as he said people were saying “can we please end this agony – it’s dominating everything”.
When the presenter pointed to the millions of signatures to the petition to cancel Brexit, he said: “I know, and a lot of them are from Russia so perhaps there should be an inquiry into collusion, who’s to say?”
He went on: “Opinion polls are now very clear ... there is a big clear majority who want to leave with no deal as opposed to having an extension of any kind at all.”
Mr Farage also claimed that about 20 million people would have joined the Leave Means Leave march “in spirit”, but it was “the symbolism of it that matters”.
There is no majority in parliament for a no-deal exit, as MPs voted to delay Britain’s departure rather than crash out without a deal on 29 March.
A recent YouGov poll found 61 per cent of the population would vote to Remain rather than back Ms May’s deal if the choice was offered in a referendum while 39 per cent would opt for the existing deal.
If people were asked in a public vote whether they would prefer to remain in the EU or leave with no deal in place, Remain would still win, though by the smaller margin of 57-43 per cent.
EU leaders agreed on Thursday night to give Ms May more time to get her deal through parliament but she is widely expected to lose a third meaningful vote.
The prime minister also faces a Tory party losing patience with her leadership and threats that MPs could now seize control of the withdrawal process.