Nigel Farage, one of the most prominent campaigners for Britain to leave the European Union, has backed a new pro-Brexit party approved by the UK’s Electoral Commission.
The former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) announced in an op-ed for The Telegraph that if Britain’s exit from the EU was delayed, he would stand as candidate for the party in the European Parliament elections.
“I have made it clear many times that I will not stand by and do nothing, so should this (European Parliament) election need to be contested, I will stand as a candidate for the Brexit Party and I will give it my all,” he said, adding: “In defense of democracy, we stand ready for battle.”
The party’s current leader, Catherine Blaiklock – a former member of UKIP – registered the group on Tuesday.
Speaking to The Telegraph, she said that “a number of hundred” Conservative members had been in touch to say they wanted to defect to the new party.
She also said she would “not rule out” running in a general election, but confirmed that the new party will not be running in upcoming local elections or by-elections.
Farage saw the EU referendum result as a personal victory when the public voted in June 2016 to leave the bloc by a margin of 52% to 48%.
A high-profile euroskeptic, many critics accused Farage of peddling racist and xenophobic views – especially when it comes to immigration in the UK. He argued in 2016 that the open immigration policy Britain agreed to with the EU led to an influx of people that created divisions within society.
“We find ourselves, for the benefit of tariff-free trade, having to accept unlimited free movement of people,” he said.
Before the Brexit vote, UKIP unveiled a campaign poster with the words: “Breaking Point. The EU has failed us all,” showing an image of migrants entering Europe in 2015. Opposition leaders called it “divisive” and “hate-filled.”
As it stands, the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29. However the clock is ticking for British Prime Minister Theresa May to secure a deal that has approval from both the EU and UK and unless she seeks an extension on Article 50, the country will crash out of the bloc – which could have serious effects on food and medicine supply, businesses and travel.
CNN’s Seb Shukla and Livvy Doherty contributed to this story.