Could Nigel Farage ever be prime minister?

The Brexit Party leader suggests a general election pact with Boris Johnson

Nigel Farage outside 10 Downing Street
(Image credit: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

Nigel Farage has warned Boris Johnson that the Brexit Party can be the prime minister’s “best friend or worst enemy”.

The Brexit Party leader told audiences at a party event in Westminster that they could form a “non-aggression pact” with the Conservatives if Johnson pursues a no-deal Brexit, says The Daily Telegraph.

“If Boris Johnson is prepared to do the right thing for the independence of this country, then we would put country before party and do the right thing,” said Farage.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

“We would be prepared to work with him, perhaps in the form of a non-aggression pact at the general election.”

Farage’s party is openly gearing up for a general election, claiming it is ready to fight “every single seat up and down the length and breadth of the UK”.

Farage said in a tweet: “I founded The Brexit Party to restore faith in our broken democracy. We have spent the summer preparing for a general election — and we are ready.”

This week’s event saw hundreds of prospective Brexit Party candidates gather in London, and Farage reveal that his party had vetted 635 people to fight a general election.

He believed it was more likely than not that the country would go to the polls this autumn.

John Longworth, Brexit Party MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, and former director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, is in charge of drawing up a manifesto to shape a post-Brexit future for Britain, reports the Daily Express.

Since it was launched by Farage on 12 April, the “party has redefined British politics and hopes to keep up that momentum”, says the newspaper.

But does Farage really stand a chance of becoming prime minister?

In the lead-up to the European elections on 23 May, he claimed that more than 100,000 people had signed up to support his new party.

The Brexit Party dominated the Euro elections, winning 32% of the vote and 29 seats in the European Parliament, the largest number of any British party.

Soon after, Farage promised to field 650 candidates to stand for Westminster office in the next general election if the country does not leave the European Union by 31 October.

And now bookmakers have shortened their odds on Farage becoming PM to 20/1, with only Ken Clarke (16/1), Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn (11/4) and Keir Starmer (16/1) ahead.

“One thing is for sure,” says PoliticsHome. “If the deadlock over the EU continues at Westminster, the Brexit Party will continue to prosper... Holding the balance of power in the event of a snap election would be a dream for Farage and an unthinkable prospect a matter of months ago.”

But the Brexit Party failed to beat Labour in the June Peterborough by-election, showing that “in a first-past-the-post system, it is going to have to fight tooth and nail for every seat”, says The Daily Telegraph’s Asa Bennett.

As Bennett asks, if it can’t break through in a “leave-leaning seat that has remained very partial to the Brexit Party message, where on Earth can the Brexit Party win?”

The Conservative Party is the bookmakers’ favourite to win the next general election at 4/9, while Labour is in second place on 7/2. The Brexit Party is a distant third on 18/1.

Channel 4’s FactCheck notes that the “political landscape is changing so quickly that only a very brave pundit would call the result of the next general election with too much confidence”.

But it adds: “Previous experience suggests that Mr Farage should not be measuring the curtains for No. 10 Downing Street yet.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.