Brexit candidates to step aside in Norfolk seats won by Conservatives in 2017
PUBLISHED: 15:08 11 November 2019 | UPDATED: 22:44 11 November 2019
Candidates who would have stood for the Brexit Party in Norfolk seats have said they are "disappointed" their leader Nigel Farage has told them to stand aside - but understand his decision.
Speaking to supporters in Hartlepool he said the party would not stand in the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in the last election in 2017.
That means the Brexit Party will not field candidates in Great Yarmouth, Norwich North, North West Norfolk, South West Norfolk, Broadland or South Norfolk.
In Norfolk, it leaves just Norwich South and North Norfolk as seats where the Brexit Party could stand. Harry Gwynne is the candidate in North Norfolk, and Sandy Gilchrist is set to run in Norwich South.
Mr Farage said he had taken the decision because he feared that if they had run it would have led to a hung Parliament with significant gains for the Liberal Democrats.
He said: "We've decided ourselves that we absolutely have to put country before party and take the fight to Labour."
He said he still wants to see Brexit Party MPs elected to hold Mr Johnson to account if he wins a majority.
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He added: "It's not easy, but how do we hold Boris to his promises? That's the key to this isn't it? That's the key to whether this strategy actually works."
He continued: "The way we keep Boris Johnson to his promises is we have to start to win some of these seats. That's what we need to do in this election.
"Because when we do that and we have a Brexit Party voice in Parliament, we're going to keep saying 'remember, you told us we were leaving by the end of 2020. Remember you told us we're not going to have political alignment'.
"And actually he'll know, just as Mrs May's vote disappeared in the European elections of this year, the same will happen again if a British prime minister breaks firm commitments."
Kate Lyons, who was due to stand for the Brexit Party in Norwich North, said: "I am disappointed to have been stood down but understand the reasons for this decision. Thank you to my terrific supporters in Norwich North."
And Ruth Jolley, who was to run for the Bexit Party in South West Norfolk, said: "I respect Nigel Farage's reasons for standing down candidates in Tory areas, but I'm disappointed that this will mean SW Norfolk won't get the chance to vote for the Brexit Party in this election.
"It was a chance to change the status quo and change things for the better."
Clive Lewis, who is looking to retain Norwich South for Labour tweeted: "Well, there's a shocker. Not."
He added: "On a positive note, the battle lines are drawn. The Tories have openly allied with the hard right. The left and centre must not think very hard about how not to split its vote."