New Brexit party set up by Norfolk guesthouse owner and backed by Nigel Farage claims to have £1m and 200 candidates
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A new Brexit party set up by a Norfolk guesthouse owner and backed by Nigel Farage already has £1m and 200 candidates to stand for election, it has been claimed.
Catherine Blaiklock set up the Brexit Party this month, and speaking on The Telegraph's Chopper's Brexit Podcast on Friday she took aim at civil servants and said her venture already had a lot of support.
Mrs Blaiklock, who owns the Annapurna guesthouse in Lingwood, near Acle, previously stood for UKIP in a bid to become MP for Great Yarmouth.
But she lost out to Conservative Brandon Lewis as the UKIP vote heartland in the coastal town collapsed.
Now former city trader Mrs Blaiklock has set up a new party, with the backing of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who she said she had been asking for 'weeks, months' to come on board.
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She said: 'My Brexit means WTO (World Trade Organisation) - everybody calls that no deal - and going on to Article 24.'
Article 24 is part of WTO rules which allows groups of countries to trade without having to treat all parties equally.
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Brexiteers argue that the UK and the EU can use Article 24 – in particular provision for an interim arrangement that can last up to 10 years while a permanent deal is being negotiated – to agree a zero-tariff deal with the EU until a long-term free-trade agreement is developed.
But others have said it will not prevent the economic harm predicted after a no deal Brexit.
Mrs Blaiklock said: 'The real disgrace of this whole thing is we have 300,000 civil servants and they have done nothing to plan anything and they leave it down to the wire.'
She added: 'You don't need a deal. When you get rid of your Sky subscription you don't need a deal, we just leave.
'It's a single-issue party if we don't get Brexit and right now it looks like we could have fudge, all sorts of things, amendments.
'Article 24 would allow you two to 10 years, that's the first point, if we'd had a proper civil service who'd done their job as opposed to trying to thwart the results this would've all been just done.
'If we get BRINO - Brexit in name only - then there becomes an issue as to whether that's a satisfactory result and how bad that result it.'
She said already the party had more than 200 candidates and 'seven-figure pledges' from supporters.
She said: 'We have amazing number of people who have never been in the political process who are QCs, directors, business people, all sorts of very highly professional people. It's quite extraordinary. If we did go for the European Parliament elections and we would be looking for 70 candidates, I think we would triple that already.'
If Brexit is postponed by more than a few weeks, the UK could be forced to put candidates into the polls.
Already Mr Farage has vowed to stand, but if the country does leave the EU on March 29 no candidates will need to be put up.
Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has said it was 'difficult to know' if negotiations with Brussels would run until the 11th hour, but confirmed that 'extra time' may be needed to pass laws.
But Downing Street insisted Theresa May remained 'determined' to ensure that all the necessary arrangements would be in place for the UK to leave on March 29.