What is the Brexit Party? Everything you need to know ahead of the general election

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage speaks during a general election campaign event in Hartlepool, Britain, November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Heppell
What exactly is the Brexit Party? (Picture: REUTERS/Scott Heppell)

When he launched the Brexit Party in April, Nigel Farage said it would change the course of UK politics for good.

He could well be right, as the party he created continues to wield power over the other parties in Westminster.

But as the most recent addition to the UK’s political scene, what is the Brexit Party and why has it become so important?

When was the Brexit Party formed?

The Brexit Party was formed officially in January 2019 with the aim of making sure the UK leaves the EU.

Its initial leader was former Ukip economics spokesperson Catherine Blaiklock, but Nigel Farage - who at that time was an independent MEP after leaving Ukip in December the previous year - backed the party.

Catherine Blaiklock, founder of the Brexit Party talks during an interview in central London, Britain, February 21, 2019. Picture taken February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
The Brexit Party was initially founded by Catherine Blaiklock but Nigel Farage took over as leader (Picture: REUTERS/Simon Dawson)

In February, Farage said he would stand as a candidate for the Brexit Party in any future European Parliament elections.

In the same month, Blaiklock said the party had raised a million pounds in donations, with more than 200 people coming forward offering to stand for the party at the May 2019 European Parliament election.

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But despite its early popularity, it wasn’t plain sailing.

Blaiklock found herself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons when it emerged she had retweeted messages by far-right figures including Tommy Robinson. She resigned in March 2019 and was replaced by Nigel Farage.

The party officially launched in April, with Farage keen to make a distinction between the Brexit Party and Ukip, criticising the latter’s far-right connections.

The Brexit Party attracted plenty of big names when it was formed, including party chairman Richard Tice (left) and Annunziata Rees-Mogg (right) (Picture: PA)
The Brexit Party attracted plenty of big names when it was formed, including party chairman Richard Tice (left) and Annunziata Rees-Mogg (right) (Picture: PA)

Who are the Brexit Party’s members?

The party aims to appeal to those in favour of making sure the UK leaves the EU.

Many of its supporters were from Farage’s previous creation, Ukip, but others defected from the Conservative Party including Ann Widdecombe and Annunziata Rees-Mogg.

The party has also received backing from Brexit supporters from other parties, including George Galloway.

How did the party do in the European elections?

The European Parliament elections were seen by many as a coup for the Brexit Party, which won the largest share of the national vote just four months after it had been set up.

The result meant it became the largest British Party and largest European party in the European Parliament.

The Brexit Party enjoyed huge success in the European Parliament elections  (Picture: PA)
The Brexit Party enjoyed huge success in the European Parliament elections (Picture: PA)

What’s the plan for the December 12 general election?

Nigel Farage originally said the Brexit Party would field candidates in more than 600 seats in the general election.

But on November 11 he announced a u-turn, saying the party won’t put up candidates in the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017.

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He said instead the party would focus its efforts into seats held by Labour and any other “Remainer” parties.

Critics speculated whether Boris Johnson had asked Farage for a deal, but the Brexit Party leader said the Prime Minister’s move towards a free trade deal with the European Union that did not include regulatory alignment was a "significant change" to the approach on Brexit.

A combination of pictures created in London on November 1, 2019 shows Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson (R) and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage (L) giving speeches. - Britain will go to the polls on December 12, 2019 to vote in a pre-Christmas general election. (Photo by Oli SCARFF and Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF,BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
There is speculation that a deal between Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson prompted the Brexit Party's u-turn over how many seats it will contest in the general election (Picture: by OLI SCARFF,BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

In December 2019, exactly one week before the general election, three Brexit Party MEPs resigned and pledged their support for the Conservatives.

Annunziata Rees-Mogg - sister of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg - Lance Forman and Lucy Harris resigned the whip and threw their weight behind Boris Johnson.

It came the day after another Brexit MEP, John Longworth, was sacked for “undermining” Nigel Farage’s election strategy.

Does the Brexit Party have policies on any other notable issues?

In June 2019, the party announced a proposal to transform struggling British Steel into a partly worker-owned company.

It also supports cutting Britain's foreign aid budget, scrapping HS2 and also scrapping interested interest paid on student tuition fees.

The party has also signed a cross-party declaration alongside the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and the Scottish National Party calling for first-past-the-post voting to be replaced by proportional representation when it comes to Westminster elections.

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