LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday ruled out an electoral pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which had warned that the Conservatives would take a “real kicking” in an election if Brexit was not a clean break from the EU.
Johnson, who has lost his working majority in the House of Commons, wants to hold an election but parliament has ordered him to ask the EU to delay Brexit until 2020 unless he can strike a transition deal at an EU summit on Oct. 17-18.
While parliament has so far blocked two of Johnson’s requests for an election, Farage said it was clear that there would be one soon and that traditional party loyalties to Conservative and Labour had changed due to Brexit.
“If we go beyond the 31st of October and we are still a member of the European Union - which looks increasingly likely - then a lot of votes will shift from the Conservative Party to the Brexit Party,” Farage told reporters.
He said he would consider a pact with Johnson’s Conservatives ahead of a possible general election if Johnson agreed to press for a “clean break” Brexit.
“The Conservatives will take a real kicking from Nov. 1 onwards,” Farage added. “I very much hope that Boris Johnson will simply look at the numbers. If we stand against them, they cannot win a majority.”
Johnson’s political spokesman said: “The PM will not be doing a deal with Nigel Farage.”
A senior Conservative Party source added that Farage was not a “fit and proper” person and should not be allowed anywhere near government.
Farage, who as UKIP leader pushed then-Prime Minister David Cameron to call the Brexit referendum and then helped lead the campaign to leave the EU, said he was preparing for a another Brexit referendum.
The deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party Tom Watson said earlier on Wednesday that he wanted there to be a new referendum on EU membership before national elections are held.
Farage warned that the Brexit Party - the biggest gainers in May’s European Parliament election - would win seats in the Midlands, south Wales and northern England, disrupting any election for both the Conservatives and Labour parties.
When asked what he thought would happen in coming weeks, Farage said he expected the EU would make some concessions to Johnson before Oct. 31 and that Johnson would try to push a deal through parliament.
“There is going to be give from Brussels - there is going to be some sort of change to the Withdrawal Agreement on the backstop but I suspect absolutely nothing else,” he said.
“My sense is that he (Johnson) comes back to the House of Commons and tries to get that through,” he said.
Writing by David Milliken; Editing by Kate Holton and Stephen Addison
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