Nigel Farage has warned he will start a new political party if the government “goes soft” during the Brexit negotiations.
Speaking on his LBC radio show on Tuesday, the Brexit Party leader hinted that he would be willing to challenge Boris Johnson as the leader of a new party if the prime minister caved into pressure to extend the transition period.
Asked by a caller about the Dominic Cummings scandal, Farage said he was “conflicted” as he felt the Vote Leave mastermind needed to remain in his post to deliver Brexit.
“I am terribly conflicted over this,” Farage said, “We need Cummings to be there for the next few weeks, those of us that want Brexit.
“Because if he suddenly disappeared maybe Boris would go soft. We could finish up extending the transition period.”
He added: “So whatever I think about him is irrelevant. A big chunk of me says it’s important that he’s there. But another part of me can’t help but think of things like that cock-and-bull story about going to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight.
“I mean, what do they take us for?”
He then claimed he would use the one-year anniversary of the European elections to take on Johnson again if he accepted an extension to the transition period.
Farage has previously claimed he would rebrand the Brexit Party as “the Reform Party” after Brexit, and he repeated his pledge on Tuesday.
“We might need to rebrand as The Reform Party,” he added, “Definitely our appetite is for political reform. This country wants political reform. It’s sick of the whole bloody system. Sick of the whole lot.
“We talk about [Washington as] the swamp and we are beginning to talk about Westminster in the same way.”
It comes as Boris Johnson is set to attend a high-level summit later this month which could be make or break for the process of striking a trade deal.
With the fourth round of talks in an increasingly fractious set of negotiations beginning on Tuesday, Number 10 accused Brussels of insisting on an "unbalanced" set of demands.
The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier used a Sunday Times interview to accuse the UK of failing to meet commitments agreed with Brussels.
But the prime minister's official spokesman accused the EU of insisting on restrictions on the UK's freedom to diverge from Brussels rules which were not set out in the joint Political Declaration.
One of the major issues is the "level playing field" which is aimed at preventing the UK from undercutting EU standards on issues including workers' rights, environmental protection and state subsidies.
Despite a process described by some insiders as "tetchy" and a public exchange of letters between Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost, Downing Street insisted progress could be made.
"We hope this latest round is constructive and we hope that it will keep the process on track ahead of the high-level meeting later this month."