The Brexit Party leader urged Boris Johnson to “press the reset button” and form an electoral pact. Nigel Farage then claimed the Prime Minister’s general election campaign has been “torpedoed” by Michel Barnier. BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker began: “Mr Farage the reason they haven’t agreed to a deal with you is that you stipulated that in order to do that you’d have to drop the Brexit deal, that Brexit deal that got a second reading in the Commons.
“So I mean surely you knew that the Conservatives would never agree to that.”
Mr Farage told the BBC: “No it’s a chance to press the reset button, a general election is when parties fight on new manifestos with different candidates and you get a different Parliament.
“It’s a great time to press the reset button. Look I think Mr Barnier has torpedoed Boris’ campaign today by saying ‘we’re not leaving evenly the end of next year’.
“So I still think there’s time for an accommodation to be met, but if there’s not then the Brexit Party is the only party standing clearly saying ‘we’ve got to have a clean break’.
READ MORE: Barnier says ‘moment of truth’ for UK coming predicting Brexit delay
“And that date of January 31 must be the day on which we leave.”
The comments follow Mr Barnier warning the UK’s future relationship with the EU will not be concluded by the end of next year.
The bloc’s chief negotiator said next summer will become a “moment of truth” for Mr Johnson, as the Prime Minister will be expected to make a choice between no deal Brexit or extending the transition period.
In a blow for the campaigning Conservative party, the Brussels bureaucrat dismissed Michael Gove’s pledge to cut ties with the EU by December 2020.
Delivering a speech in Lisbon on Tuesday, Mr Barnier said: “I know this negotiation will be difficult and demanding, for one reason the time will be extremely short, 11 months if the transition period ends as currently foreseen. Summer 2020 in eight months will be the first moment of truth on how far we have come and whether extension of the transition will be needed.”
Mr Barnier told his audience that a new cliff edge will emerge when the proposed transitional period, during which Britain remains in the EU’s single market and customs union, comes to an end. He added: “As long as we have not completed negotiations with the UK the risk of a cliff edge remains and we should all remain vigilant.”
Meanwhile, Mr Farage was dealt a blow on Tuesday after it emerged that 20 Brexit Party candidates had already quit. Paul Brothwood, who stood down as the party’s candidate in Dudley South, admitted he disagreed with Mr Farage’s “dangerous” strategy of taking on the Tories, as it could let Mr Corbyn win.
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He told the Telegraph: “It feels good to be back in the Conservative family who are committed to delivering Brexit and I am confident that Boris Johnson is the best person to stand up for Britain.”
Mr Brothwood added that “a number” of candidates had also been removed from a local Brexit Party WhatsApp group.
On Tuesday, Mr Farage told the Press Association he decided not to stand in the General Election so he could “traverse the length and breadth of the country” to help potential candidates get elected.
Mr Farage said: “Look, perhaps he doesn’t want a pact because he wants to continue with his EU treaty. He wants us to be half in, half out, and go straight into three more years of expensive negotiations where we are tied in every way.
“I would urge the Prime Minister to change course. He did what he could in a very difficult situation he inherited. It’s a very Remain Parliament, the General Election is a chance to press the reset button. At the moment he has chosen not to. If that’s the case, I will stand for Brexit if he doesn’t really want to.”