Nigel Farage says he will not stand in June general election

Jessica Elgot
Nigel Farage during speeches at the European parliament in Strasbourg. Photograph: Sebastien Bozon/Getty Images

The former Ukip leader Nigel Farage will not be a candidate in the general election, although he admitted he had been tempted to stand for Douglas Carswell’s Clacton seat.

Farage, who had a high-profile split with Carswell that saw the MP quit Ukip a few weeks ago, said the constituency would have been an “easy win” but his attention was focused on the European parliament.

“If I compare the platform I have in Strasbourg to being a backbench MP, there is frankly no comparison,” he wrote in the Telegraph.

“The Brexit negotiations will take place in Brussels and the European parliament will not only have a large impact on them, but ultimately will have the right of veto on any deal at the end of the two-year process.”

Farage also said he expected Theresa May would win a large majority for the Conservatives on 8 June.

Carswell, who defected from the Conservatives in 2014 and became Ukip’s first elected MP, said earlier on Thursday that he had been “proud and honoured” to represent the Essex constituency, but felt his political career was finished now the UK was leaving the EU. He said he would quit as an MP and vote Conservative.

Farage said he believed he would have had a good chance of success in the Essex seat, which handed Carswell a 3,500 majority in 2015. “It would be a very easy win and for me, a personal vindication to get into the House of Commons after all these years of standing in elections,” he said. The MEP has failed to get elected to parliament on seven occasions.

Ukip’s former main financial backer, Arron Banks, confirmed he would stand for election in Clacton, where he had hoped to unseat Carswell, though he too has recently fallen out with Ukip. He told BBC Radio Essex he believed Carswell had stood down because “he was scared of losing”.

Farage said he wanted to keep his focus on the Brexit negotiations in Brussels and Strasbourg. “I believe I can use my profile in European politics to put real pressure on MEPs to vote for a sensible deal with the UK,” he said.

“Just weeks after we are due to leave, there will be the next set of European elections. The MEPs across the continent who are attempting to be re-elected need to feel the heat and the threat of losing their seats if they don’t back a sensible deal.

“There will be parties that campaign on a grown-up ticket, and I will happily visit and speak in European capitals to drive the point home.”

Farage told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday morning that Ukip’s leader, Paul Nutall, had “six weeks to prove himself” over the course of the campaign, having failed to get elected himself at the Stoke-on-Trent Central byelection last month.

In his Telegraph article, Farage conceded that the Conservatives would win a majority, but said he believed more people would back Ukip because they could be confident of a Tory victory.

“As the next few weeks unfold, and the sheer ineptitude of Corbyn’s Labour is witnessed by the public, the Tory poll lead will be of such a magnitude that the pro-EU progressive alliance argument will disappear,” he said.

“The certainty of a large Conservative majority and knowing that the remainers have been trounced, will see Ukip voters coming home. Ukip have had a huge transformative effect on British politics, but the job is far from done. We may have helped to win the war with the referendum, but winning the peace is of equal importance.”

Farage gave his backing to Nuttall, who has not yet declared where he will seek election on 8 June. “I will help and support Paul Nuttall through this time and I expect him to emerge as a strong voice for what many millions want,” Farage said.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes