THREE more Brexit Party MEPS – including Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata – have sensationally quit in order to endorse Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in a clear indication that all is not well behind the scenes of Nigel Farage’s fledgling political outfit – with Ms Rees-Mogg saying the Tories were the “only option for democrats”.
But an insider has said the four MPs had “not fully grasped” the point that dramatically scaling back the number of seats it fought would have a devastating impact on the Brexit Party’s electoral budget. MEP John Longworth yesterday had the whip withdrawn amid accusations he was undermining his own party with his recent remarks, and Mr Farage’s statement confirmed three others had followed suit, with all three set to explain their reasons later today. Ms Rees-Mogg, MEP for the East Midlands and a former Conservative candidate, said: “We need a strong Leave-supporting government to deliver the Brexit 17.4 million voted for.
“The Conservatives are the only option for Brexit supporters and democrats alike.”
Mr Farage said: ”Whilst we are disappointed that four of our MEPs don’t seem to understand that we both saved the Conservative party from large scale losses to the Liberal Democrats in the South and South West of England but we are also hammering the Labour Leave vote in its traditional heartlands making it much easier for the Conservatives to win many of those seats.
“The only vote on the Leave side that is currently being split is in areas such as Barnsley, the South Wales Valleys, Doncaster and Hartlepool where there is a risk that the Tories will split our vote.”
In an acknowledgement that Ms Rees-Mogg was one of the trio, a spokesman added: “We also note that one of the MEPs is the sister of a Cabinet Minister, another has a partner who works in the office of the same Cabinet Minister and yet another is a personal friend of both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
“In the case of John Longworth, who was for years the firmest advocate of WTO withdrawal that we have ever met, he underwent a metamorphosis into being a supporter of the new EU treaty following two days of meetings in London.
“We hope that Mr Longworth is well rewarded for his actions.”
Ms Rees-Mogg was one of 29 Brexit Party MEPs elected to the European Parliament earlier this year.
There is no implication that she has rejoined the Conservative Party.
Speaking at an event at Cadogan Hall in September, Mr Rees-Mogg talked of his wish to lure his sister back into the Conservative fold.
However, fellow Brexit Party MEP David Bull, who is standing in Tony Blair’s old Sedgefield constituency in the north east, sought to pour cold water on the idea.
He told Express.co.uk the following day: “I was with her all week and we spoke about it a lot.
“The thing is we’ve put our personal positions on the line here.
“Many of us have left jobs in order to do this and the public have to trust that we mean what we say.
As a group we are so passionate about this and none of us – not Annunziata, not me – could live with ourselves if we went back to Tories only for them to sign up for some sort of Brexit Lite which isn’t really Brexit at all.”
The four MEPs – Ms Rees-Mogg, Mr Longworth, Ms Harris plus Lance Forman, have all signed a letter of resignation sent to Mr Farage, and have released a video on social media detailing their decision.
In it, they state: “We strongly believe that if you want to ensure Brexit gets delivered, you must vote for Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, and not the Brexit Party.”
All appeared at a press conference in central London this morning.
Speaking in advance, Mr Longworth said: “For those who want Brexit, Boris Johnson’s deal is the only option available, Labour does not have a plan.”
Lance Forman added: “We cannot allow the vote to be split, allowing a Marxist and antisemitic party to enter into 10 Downing street.
“That is why at this stage, I must support the Conservative Party.”
Lucy Harris said: “The Brexit Party has played an essential role in getting us to a point where Brexit can actually happen. Now it’s time to get Brexit done.”
The Brexit Party source said without fighting as many seats as possible the Brexit Party’s electoral budget would be slashed dramatically under the strictures of electoral law.
He added: “We would also be effectively removed from the major debates so the chance of getting our key messages across would be hugely reduced.”
We also note that one of the MEPs is the sister of a Cabinet Minister, another has a partner who works in the office of the same Cabinet Minister and yet another is a personal friend of both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove