Brexit Party: 'We are going to shake up the system - top to bottom'
PUBLISHED: 08:21 02 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:20 04 November 2019
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A Norfolk election hopeful has said the Brexit Party will "shake up" the system after Nigel Farage threw down a gauntlet to the prime minister.
But retiring Liberal Democrat MP Sir Norman Lamb said his party were "rubbing their hands together" after Mr Farage threatened to wreck Boris Johnson's election if he does not ditch his Brexit deal.
Mr Farage dropped the bombshell that he would stand candidates in every seat in Britain as he launched his party's election campaign yesterday.
He sent a stark message to the PM ordering him to drop the EU Withdrawal Agreement or face losing votes to the Brexit Party.
But he promised a "non-aggression pact" in return for a harder Brexit.
Launching the party's campaign in Westminster, Mr Farage said the PM's deal did not represent Brexit and described his "very big, generous offer" as a "one-off opportunity" that would secure Brexit and win the election with a "big stonking majority".
Number 10 is said to be divided over a pact but it is unlikely Mr Johnson's adviser Dominic Cummings would back it after feuding with Mr Farage during the referendum in 2016.
Sir Norman, who is stepping down after more than 18 years as North Norfolk's MP, said: "The Lib Dems will be rubbing their hands together - especially in North Norfolk.
"It is right that this strand of political belief is represented but I strongly believe that it will damage the Tory vote. Our job as Lib Dems is to think beyond Brexit as well though.
"Remind people - even Leavers - about the issues we face with mental health and social care and ask 'do we want the Tories looking after these issues?'
"Our candidate Karen Ward is very like me - she is independently minded and will do what is best for her constituents first and foremost."
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But Harry Gwynne, the Brexit candidate in North Norfolk, denied standing against the Tories could let a Remain-supporting party hang on to the seat. "I don't think this is handing more power to Remain," he said. "In North Norfolk it is Norman Lamb's personal franchise that has won him so many elections. He was a good constituency MP but that franchise goes with him.
"There is no way Leavers will vote for the Lib Dems again. We are going to capitialise on that. We are here to shake the system - top to bottom."
Commenting on Mr Farage's disdain for the Tory Brexit deal he added: "This is the right move - you have to be aggressive towards the deal there is no time to skirt around the edge. This deal is 95% the same as Theresa May's. The European Research Group would not have supported this if Mrs May had brought it back. There are some real horrors in there.
"I have no faith that it will not be extended beyond January - I am worried they will just end up calling the whole thing off."
Ben Goodwin, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in Broadland, said: "Not even Farage and Johnson can agree on Brexit. The current deal divides the United Kingdom and makes us poorer - it obviously doesn't get Brexit done.
"The Liberal Democrats welcome the chance to prove at the ballot box that voters want us to get on with tackling other issues like health care and the climate crisis, with representatives who are honest and acting in the national interest rather than their own."
Meanwhile Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham has pulled out of the race to become the next speaker of the House of Commons.
Sir Henry, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, had been among the first to confirm he wanted to succeed John Bercow in the role. But he has withdrawn from the contest after concluding that others were "better placed" than him to secure cross-party support amid what he described as "two major crises" which parliament must grapple with.
Sir Henry said: "Having entered the contest immediately after speaker Bercow announced that he was standing down, I have been fortunate enough to attend each one of the many different hustings alongside the other eight candidates.
"It is obvious to me that parliament faces two major crises: First of all, public confidence and trust in parliament has never been so low; and secondly the whole bullying saga has done an equal amount of damage. "In order to negotiate our way through these crises, and restore public trust, it is important we have a new speaker who really can command support."