Failure to leave EU is very obvious reason for partys European election success
Nigel Farage has claimed he could win the next general election if Conservative leadership candidates fail to deliver Brexit by the end of October, as his party topped the European polls in the UK.
The Brexit party leader said he had no trust in Boris Johnson or any of the other Tory hopefuls to deliver Brexit, as he pledged to field 650 candidates to stand for Westminster office.
Farage told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: The next date is 31 October. That will become as big a day in peoples minds as 29 March. If we dont leave on [31 October], then we can expect to see the Brexit partys success last night continue into the next general election.
Farages victory at the European elections is likely to put pressure on the Conservative leadership hopefuls to promise a hard Brexit in order to win back many of the partys voters.
The Brexit party topped the poll with 33.3% of the UK vote based on the results so far, with the Conservatives pushed down into fifth place on as little as 8.8%.
Johnson, who is currently the favourite to become the next Tory leader, used his Daily Telegraph column to acknowledge the results were a crushing rebuke to the governments Brexit policy.
He said: The message from these results is clear. If we go on like this, we will be fired: dismissed from the job of running the country.
The only way to avert that outcome is to honour the result of the 2016 referendum, and come out of the EU; and that means doing it properly not with some frail simulacrum of Brexit If we fail yet again to discharge that mandate, then I fear we will see a permanent haemorrhage of Conservative support, and loyal voters who have left us to join the Brexit party (and others) may simply never come back.
Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary who is another leading candidate said the dire results for the Conservatives meant the party faced an existential risk unless it delivered Brexit.
However, there was still no consensus in the Conservatives about how Brexit should be delivered. John Redwood, a Eurosceptic former cabinet minister, said the results showed the government should proceed to no deal, while Kevin Hollinrake, the Tory MP for Thirsk and Malton, said to attempt a hard Brexit would just encourage the case for a second referendum.
No Deal Brexit 36.8% (BP+UKIP) No Brexit 37.0% (LD+G+CUK) we should consider that those who push for the purity of no deal rather than accept a compromise deal may bring on [second referendum]. Pretty clear that Labour will shortly adopt [second referendum] as their official position, he tweeted.
Some Tory MPs have even suggested an electoral pact to neutralise the impact of Farage but the Brexit party leader dismissed this idea, saying he did not trust any of the candidates to promise to leave with a deal or no deal at the end of October.
Whatever the Conservative leader says, why would I believe them? he said. I do not believe the Conservative party is even capable of producing a leader through this contest with that kind of clear message If I see a Conservative manifesto for an autumn election that says unequivocally and clearly we are leaving the EU with or without a deal and we mean it, I would be delighted, but would they deliver?
Farage also demanded a seat at the negotiating table when a new Tory prime minister tries to renegotiate Theresa Mays Brexit deal in Brussels.
The veteran MEP was elected a member of the European parliament for the fifth time in the UKs largest constituency, south-east England, a seat he has held for 20 years.
In his victory speech at Southampton civic centre, Farage insisted the reason the party had topped the polls was very obvious.
He said: We voted to leave in a referendum and we voted to do so on 29 March and we havent. The Labour and Conservative parties can learn a big lesson from tonight but I dont suppose that they actually will.
Having humiliated the Tories by mopping up the leave vote throughout the UK, the Brexit party performed exceptionally in Farages constituency, winning 915,686 votes, or 36.1% of the vote share.
While Farage managed to avoid controversy for most of the night, slipping into the count through a back door, there was a brief confrontation between the Greens and Brexit party members after the results were announced.
Tom Druitt, a Brighton Green councillor and the husband of the newly elected Green MEP for the region Alexandra Phillips, stood on a chair in the civic centre and condemned Farage for making this country an international joke.
As members of the press crowded around Farage, Druitt shouted: We are where we are in this country because of this man. He added: He is the one that youre obsessed with day in day out.
During Druitts impromptu speech, members of Farages entourage shouted: You lost, get over it, and called Druitt rude.
Farage, speaking after his victory speech, said he had gone back into politics after leaving Ukip because a solid promise to the British people has been broken.
Had this been a referendum, it would have been 52-48 to the leave side as indeed it would across the country, he said. I hope that this is a very, very short-lived job and at the end of the year were gone.