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The Brexit Party is a Eurosceptic political party in the United Kingdom. Established in 2019, it is led by Nigel Farage. Ahead of the 2019 European Parliament election, the party had fourteen Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and four Welsh Assembly Members, all of whom were originally elected as candidates of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Brexit Party
ChairmanRichard Tice[1]
LeaderNigel Farage
Founders
Founded23 November 2018; 6 months ago (2018-11-23)
Registered5 February 2019; 3 months ago (2019-02-05)
Headquarters83 Victoria Street
London
SW1 0HW[2]
Membership (2019)Increase 100,000[3] registered supporters
IdeologyEuroscepticism
Populism
European Parliament groupEurope of Freedom and Direct Democracy
Colours          Aqua, white
SloganChange Politics
for Good
House of Commons
0 / 650
European Parliament
(UK seats)
29 / 73
National Assembly for Wales
4 / 60
Website
thebrexitparty.org
Nigel Farage, the party leader and MEP

The Brexit Party campaigns for the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (EU). Generally described as populist, it draws its support from those who are frustrated with the current implementation of the 2016 referendum decision and wish to leave the EU without remaining part of the single market or customs union. The Brexit Party styles itself as a being focused on the restoration of Britain's democratic sovereignty. Its primary policy is for the UK to withdraw from EU and to trade on World Trade Organization terms until formal trade agreements can be made.

Contents

History

A company called 'The Brexit Party Limited' was incorporated with Companies House on 23 November 2018.[4] It was formally announced on 20 January 2019 by former UKIP economics spokesperson[5] Catherine Blaiklock, who served as the party's initial leader.[6] On 5 February 2019, it was registered with the United Kingdom Electoral Commission to run candidates in any English, Scottish, Welsh and European Union elections.[7]

On the day of the announcement, Nigel Farage, who had been an independent MEP since his departure from UKIP in early December 2018, said that the party was Blaiklock's idea, but that she had acted with his full support.[6] In a 24 January 2019 interview, Blaiklock said: "I won't run it without Nigel [Farage], I'm a nobody and I haven't got any ego to say that I am an anybody", and that: "I'm happy to facilitate Nigel and do the donkey work and work for him, but I don't have any illusions as to myself".[8] On 8 February 2019, Farage stated he would stand as a candidate for the party in any potential future European Parliament elections contested in the United Kingdom.[9][10] MEPs Steven Woolfe and Nathan Gill, also formerly of UKIP, stated that they would also stand for the party.[11][12]

On 1 February 2019, Blaiklock told The Daily Telegraph the party had raised £1 million in donations, and that over 200 people had come forward offering to stand for The Brexit Party at the May 2019 European Parliament elections, if the United Kingdom has not left the European Union by then.[13] Private Eye reported that opponents of Brexit had applied online as "candidates, activists or donors with false details" to waste the party's time.[14]

After announcing the party's formation, Blaiklock attracted criticism for earlier comments described as Islamophobic.[15] She resigned as party leader on 20 March 2019 over since-deleted anti-Islam messages on Twitter, including re-tweeting messages by far-right figures including Mark Collett, Tommy Robinson and Joe Walsh.[16] Farage said that he would take over as leader, that Blaiklock was "never intended to be the long-term leader"[17] and that the party "is at the moment a virtual party – it's a website".[18] On the party's launch on 12 April, asked about issues with Blaiklock, Farage said: "I set the party up, she was the administrator that got it set up. We had a couple of teething problems, yes, but are we going to be deeply intolerant of all forms of intolerance? Yes."[19]

In April 2019, the party's treasurer Michael McGough was removed from his position after he was found to have made antisemitic and homophobic social media posts.[20]

Representation

European Parliament

By mid-February 2019, eight MEPs had joined the party: Tim Aker, Jonathan Bullock, David Coburn, Bill Etheridge, Nigel Farage, Nathan Gill, Diane James and Julia Reid. Later in February, they were joined by Paul Nuttall. All were originally elected as UKIP candidates, but all had previously left the party in opposition to Gerard Batten's leadership, mostly in December 2018, although Aker and Etheridge had left earlier in 2018 and James had left in 2016. As of April 2019, they all continue to sit in the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group.[21] MEP and former UKIP member Steven Woolfe has also indicated his support for the party.[11]

On 15 April 2019, Jane Collins, Jill Seymour, and Margot Parker left UKIP to join the Brexit Party.[22] On 17 April, Jonathan Arnott and Ray Finch joined the party and, along with Collins, Seymour and Parker now sit in the EFDD group, bringing the total number of MEPs to 14 of the 24 who were elected as UKIP MEPs in 2014.[21] On the deadline to nominate candidates, it was announced that only three of the incumbent MEPs who joined the party – Farage, Gill and Bullock – were selected to stand for the Brexit Party in the upcoming European Parliament elections.[23]

Name Constituency First elected Joined Notes
Diane James South East England 1 July 2014 5 February 2019 (2019-02-05)
David Coburn Scotland 1 July 2014 12 February 2019 (2019-02-12)
Nigel Farage South East England 10 June 1999 12 February 2019 (2019-02-12) Leader of party; successfully sought re-election in 2019
Nathan Gill Wales 1 July 2014 12 February 2019 (2019-02-12) Former AM; successfully sought re-election in 2019
Julia Reid South West England 1 July 2014 12 February 2019 (2019-02-12)
Tim Aker East of England 1 July 2014 13 February 2019 (2019-02-13)
Jonathan Bullock East Midlands 28 July 2017 13 February 2019 (2019-02-13) Successfully sought re-election in 2019
Bill Etheridge West Midlands 1 July 2014 13 February 2019 (2019-02-13)
Paul Nuttall North West England 14 July 2009 15 February 2019 (2019-02-15)
Jill Seymour West Midlands 1 July 2014 15 April 2019 (2019-04-15)
Jane Collins Yorkshire and the Humber 1 July 2014 15 April 2019 (2019-04-15)
Margot Parker East Midlands 1 July 2014 15 April 2019 (2019-04-15)
Jonathan Arnott North East England 1 July 2014 17 April 2019 (2019-04-17)
Ray Finch South East England 1 July 2014 17 April 2019 (2019-04-17)

On 23 May 2019, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, Matthew Patten, Michael Heaver, co-founder Richard Tice, June Mummery, Lance Forman, Benyamin Habib, Brian Monteith, John Tennant, Claire Fox, Henrik Nielsen, David Bull, Alexandra Phillips, Robert Rowland, Belinda De Camborne Lucy, Ann Widdecombe, Christina Jordan, James Glancy, James Wells, Rupert Lowe, Martin Daubney, John Longworth, Andrew Kerr, Jake Pugh and Lucy Harris were newly elected to the European Parliament, while Jonathan Bullock, Nigel Farage and Nathan Gill kept their seats.[24]

Welsh Assembly

On 15 May 2019, four Welsh Assembly Members originally elected or co-opted for UKIP (Caroline Jones, Mandy Jones, Mark Reckless and David Rowlands) joined the Brexit Party.[25] Reckless was appointed as Leader of their Assembly group. One AM, elected as UKIP but now sitting as an independent, Michelle Brown, was told she would not be welcome in the party.[26]

Policies and ideology

The party's lead aim is its desire for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union and then trade with countries on World Trade Organization terms.[27] On 12 April 2019, Farage said that there was "no difference between the Brexit party and Ukip in terms of policy, [but] in terms of personnel, there's a vast difference", criticising UKIP's connections to the far right. He also said that the party aimed to attract support "across the board", including from former UKIP voters and from Conservative and Labour voters who supported Brexit.[19] Later in April, Farage said that the party would not publish a manifesto until after the European elections had taken place.[28] Farage has said the party will have a policy platform instead of a manifesto.[29] Farage has described his admiration for how fellow Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy members, Italy's Five Star Movement, have managed to grow from a protest group into the country's largest political party in both houses of the Italian Parliament. He has described the Brexit Party as doing the same kind of thing and "running a company, not a political party, hence our model of registered supporters" and building a base using an online platform.[30]

The British politics professor Matthew Goodwin[31] and The Observer newspaper has described the party as national populists,[32] while Goodwin and others have also described the Brexit Party as populist[33] and right-wing populist.[32]

The party's constitution was published by the Electoral Commission as a result of a freedom of information request in May 2019.[34] It describes the party as seeking to "promote and encourage those who aspire to improve their personal situation and those who seek to be self-reliant, whilst providing protection for those genuinely in need; favour the ability of individuals to make decisions in respect of themselves; seek to diminish the role of the State; lower the burden of taxation on individuals and businesses."[35]

Funding and structure

The Brexit Party has no members, just paying 'registered supporters',[36] with Farage having a high level of control over decision-making, including hand-picking candidates himself.[37]

Farage has said the party will largely be funded by small donations and that they have raised "£750,000 in donations online, all in small sums of less than £500" in their first ten days. The party also accepts large donations, such as £200,000 donated by Jeremy Hosking, a former donor to the Conservative Party.[38] He further said that the party would not be taking money from the key former UKIP funder Arron Banks.[19][1] Farage has personally faced questions during the 2019 electoral campaign after Channel 4 News revealed undeclared travel and accommodation benefits provided by Banks before Farage joined the Brexit Party, and on 21 May 2019 the European Parliament formally opened an investigation.[39] In response to the reporting, the Brexit Party banned Channel 4 News from its events.[40]

Two days before the 2019 European election, Farage accused the Electoral Commission of "interfering in the electoral process" after the independent watchdog visited the Brexit Party headquarters for "active oversight and regulation" of party funding.[41] An official donation of £500 or more must be given by a "permissible donor", who should either be somebody listed on the British electoral roll or a business registered at Companies House and operating in Britain. When asked if the party took donations in foreign currency, Farage replied: "Absolutely not, we only take sterling - end of conversation." Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell called for "a full and open and transparent, independent inquiry into the funding of Mr Farage".[42]

Elections

The party is standing candidates in Great Britain at the 2019 European elections, with candidates including the former Conservative Minister of State Ann Widdecombe,[43] the journalist Annunziata Rees-Mogg (a former Conservative general election candidate and the sister of the Conservative MP and Brexit advocate Jacob Rees-Mogg), the Leave Means Leave co-founder Richard Tice,[1] the writers Claire Fox and James Heartfield (both once part of the Revolutionary Communist Party and later writers for Spiked),[44][45] James Glancy, a former member of the Royal Marines and the Special Boat Service who was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross,[46] Martin Daubney, a journalist and commentator,[47] David Bull, doctor, author and television presenter,[48] Brian Monteith, a former Conservative Party MSP, Rupert Lowe, a businessman[49] and retired Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott.[50] John Longworth, the former director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, announced he would be standing as a candidate for the party on 15 April 2019.[51] The party is not registered in Northern Ireland and is not fielding candidates there.[52]

A survey of 781 Conservative Party councillors found that 40% plan to vote for the Brexit Party.[53] On 17 April 2019, the former Labour and Respect Party MP George Galloway announced his support for the Brexit Party "for one-time only" in the 2019 European Parliament election.[54] On 24 April, the political columnist Tim Montgomerie announced that he would vote for the party and endorsed Widdecombe's candidature,[55] and the Conservative MP Lucy Allan described the candidates of the party as "fantastic".[56]

On 2 May, one of the party's candidates for the North West constituency, Sally Bate, resigned from the party in response to previous comments made by Claire Fox, the lead candidate in the constituency, on the Warrington bomb attacks. [57]

In May 2019, several polls forecast the party polling first for the European elections,[58] though earlier polls had suggested it would come third to Labour and the Conservatives.[59]

Farage has said the party intends to stand candidates at the next general election.[60] He has promised not to stand candidates against the 28 Eurosceptic Conservative MPs who opposed the Brexit withdrawal agreement.[61] The party is fielding a candidate, Mike Greene, a businessman and local benefactor, in the 2019 Peterborough by-election.[62]

European Parliament elections

Year Leader Share of votes Seats Change Position
2019 Nigel Farage 31.6% 29 n/a 1st

See also

References

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  2. ^ "View registration – The Electoral Commission". search.electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  3. ^ Hope, Christopher (15 May 2019). "Nigel Farage's Brexit Party closes in on Tories as supporter registrations surge through the 100,000 mark". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  4. ^ "The Brexit Party Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Catherine Blaiklock appointed as Economics Spokesman". UKIP. 12 September 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b "The new Ukip? Nigel Farage offers 'full support' for another Brexit party". The Independent. Ireland. 20 January 2019. [..] former Ukip economics spokeswoman Catherine Blaiklock applied to register the new party last week and she sounded out Mr. Farage for a role in the organisation. He told the paper: "This was Catherine's idea entirely – but she has done this with my full knowledge and my full support.
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    - Jamie Prentis, "Brexit poster boy Nigel Farage back in politics to try and save the day", The National, 22 March 2019.
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    - Steven Alexander, "Farage plays down candidate's previous defence of IRA", Belfast Telegraph, 6 May 2019
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    - Sarah Marsh, "Ex-Tory businessman to stand for Brexit party in Peterborough ", The Guardian, 9 May 2019.

External links

  Media related to Brexit Party at Wikimedia Commons