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'I’ve had the rug pulled from under me': Walsall Brexit Party candidate baffled over Farage’s climbdown

By Peter Madeley | Walsall | General Election 2019 | Published: | Last Updated:

Stephen Petty learnt he was no longer a candidate "from the news" while people running in Labour-held seats could also be told to stand down.

Stephen Petty was going to be the Brexit Party candidate for Walsall North

Nigel Farage’s decision not to oppose Tory held seats in the election has sparked confusion among Brexit Party candidates – with one saying he has had no official contact over the move.

Stephen Petty had been due to stand in Walsall North, having been named as a candidate back in August.

But he says he fears his political career may now be over after Mr Farage backed down from his claim last week that he would stand 600 candidates, instead promising to give the Conservatives a free run in the 317 seats they won in 2017.

That election saw the Tories win Walsall North for the first time in nearly four decades, when Eddie Hughes took the seat with a majority of 2,601.

It came as a senior party source told the Express & Star that some Brexit Party candidates in Labour held seats have been ordered not to submit their nomination papers, prompting concerns of further concessions by Mr Farage.

Meanwhile the former Brexit Party candidate for Arundel and South Downs has branded Mr Farage's decision a "disgrace to politics".

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Mr Petty, a 64-year-old commercial pilot from Walsall, said last night he had received no official contact from party bosses and had learned he was no longer a candidate “from the news”.

Deflated

He said he had been preparing to deliver a speech on Friday in the Black Country, at a rally which Mr Farage is due to attend.

“I know I only had a slim chance of winning, but I was ready to have a good go,” Mr Petty said.

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“I feel a bit deflated. It’s like I’ve had the rug pulled from under me.

Mr Petty is a commercial airline pilot

“I don’t know what has gone on behind closed doors, or what Nigel’s reasons are for his change of heart.

“My priority was never to become an MP. I’m not from a background in politics and I just want to see Brexit done. I was very much looking forward to standing but obviously it was not to be.”

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Mr Petty, who voted Tory in 2017, says he had self-funded his campaign, spending small amounts of cash on Facebook adverts.

He says he received a positive response from constituents in Walsall North, and had hoped to take a significant number of votes from Labour Leave supporters and former Ukippers.

General election 2019 poll of polls
(PA Graphics)

He added: “It is not the end of the world. I suspect Boris can probably be a good Prime Minister if he gets a majority, so if he gets Brexit done, that’s fine by me.”

Aaron Hudson, who had been preparing to stand in Stourbridge, said he was “genuinely gutted” at the decision.

The former Stourbridge Conservative Association member said on Twitter: “Those who make these calls know better than I do.”

Mr Farage announced his decision at a rally of members in his number one target seat of Hartlepool, where Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice is standing.

He will face a challenge from former Wolverhampton councillor Arun Photay, who was last night confirmed as the Conservative candidate.

The seat has long been a Labour stronghold.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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