Nigel Farage: We'll back Boris Johnson for a clean-break Brexit
Writing exclusively for the Express & Star, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage explains why a no deal departure from the EU would be a golden opportunity for the Midlands - ahead of the Brexit Party's West Midland conference at Telford International Centre on Friday night.
Jeremy Corbyn moved to Telford at the age of seven. He was raised in a 17th century house right here in Shropshire. He attended the Castle House School, before taking up a place at Adams' Grammar school.
These days, Corbyn hasn't just left Telford. His Labour Party has left Telford behind, along with the rest of the Midlands – same as their traditional heartlands in the North and in Wales.
Labour has become a party of North London, not the North; of Islington, not Islwyn. These days Labour is a party that isn't really all that interested in anything or anybody outside the M25.
So it's really rather fitting that The Brexit Party is coming to Telford this Friday.
We are coming to a town named after a civil engineer, a man – Thomas Telford – whose statue stands proud in the town centre today.
It stands there because Telford built roads and laid tracks, establishing connections that bought opportunity and prosperity to the entire region for many years.
These are the very connections that led to a proud regional history of innovation and manufacturing, connections that ensured that the region later became the beating heart of the industrial revolution.
When our political class is more distant from and less connected to the wishes and will of its people than at perhaps any other time in recent memory, we at The Brexit Party are pledging to re-establish connections and restore public faith in our democracy.
We've been across the country Lincoln, Doncaster, Colchester, Sedgefield and elsewhere: the message, by and large, up and down the country, has been the same. Whether people voted leave or remain, they tell us about the gap between them and the political classes and Parliament.
We voted to get out of the EU so let’s make this decision happen. That way we can get on with our lives.
Outside the EU we can start investing the Brexit dividend in infrastructure outside London, rejuvenating British industry in the Midlands and the North East.
We can reverse the decline of the High Street and get Britain networked to public WiFi and high-speed broadband.
PM Boris Johnson talks a good game, but he doesn’t seem serious about getting us out cleanly on October 31.
I've made my position clear: at The Brexit Party we are ready to put country before party and work with Boris in a non-aggression pact to deliver Brexit.
But if he's looking to offer up a reheated version of Mrs May's withdrawal agreement, the worst deal in history, then I'm afraid we will have to fight him all the way.
Why do we insist on a clean-break Brexit? The reasons for this are clear.
A so-called no deal Brexit is nothing to fear. It would free up Britain to strike up new trade deals after leaving the EU, while retaining the £39 billion from the ‘divorce bill’.
Compare this to Mr Johnson, who has assured the EU that doing a deal – minus the Northern Ireland backstop – is his ‘highest priority’.
Yet even without the backstop, May’s withdrawal agreement remains the worst deal in history.
It keeps the UK in an EU customs union, without the freedom to make new trade deals. It offers no real control of our laws, our borders, our trade, or our money.
It would leave the UK trapped under EU rules with no vote, no voice, no veto. And – backed by the Remainer alliance during the party conference season and beyond – the EU is unlikely to offer any serious concessions now.
By contrast, a clean-break Brexit is a golden opportunity to shape Britain’s future as a sovereign, independent nation with a global role. It’s the sort of historic moment Telford would have likely seized with both hands.
EU rules on state aid restrict and undermine the use of public funds to strengthen and develop our regions. If we could break free of the regulations, the Brexit dividend could foster hi-tech innovation across Telford and its neighbours.
That’s why The Brexit Party is ready to put country before party in any general election.
We have more than 630 Prospective Parliamentary Candidates ready to fight in seats across Britain.
But if Boris commits to a clean-break Brexit, dropping the withdrawal agreement, we are ready to back him.
We would not stand against his candidates in the seats where they are threatened by Lib Dems and other Remainers – indeed we would campaign for them.
Either way, we are ready.
See you at the Telford International Centre on Friday.