There has been a burst of recrimination on Twitter after a Brexit Party MEP said she would not be voting in the general election.
Alexandra Phillips had earlier complained that she had been “disenfranchised by her own party” after leader Nigel Farage decided to stand down 317 candidates, and said that she would not be voting.
She went onto BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show to say that she would not be voting and tweeted: “I will be one of millions of people who will not vote at all in the general election. That breaks my heart. I have voted in every election since I was 18 and been involved in politics for over a decade. And I have been disenfranchised by my own party.”
WATCH: Brexit Party MEP says she’s not voting in general election after Farage cullBut she was chastised by fellow Brexit Party MEP Lance Forman, who instructed Phillips to vote.
“Alex. You are not 16. What’s the point in spending your life fighting for democracy and then not voting. Vote.”
Alex. You are not 16.— Lance Forman MEP (@LanceForman) November 12, 2019
What's the point in spending your life fighting for democracy and then not voting.
Phillips shot back: “Would you like to hold the biro for me? Parties must earn support. I expect people to vote on the virtues of the party they choose as a personal private choice. It’s not for you to coerce me to vote for a party I was NOT elected to represent. Perhaps YOU should think about that.”
Forman responded saying: “I am not coercing you into anything darling. I thought the strategy was to put country before party. Therefore vote for the one who will help us deliver Brexit.”
Underlying the spat is a wider debate about how Brexit party supporters who no longer have a candidate should direct their support.
Farage has not issued a direct endorsement but has said that he is satisfied Boris Johnson can get the sort of “clean break” Brexit he supports.
I am not coercing you into anything darling. I thought the strategy was to put country before party. Therefore vote for the one who will help us deliver Brexit.— Lance Forman MEP (@LanceForman) November 12, 2019
There is now a groundswell of discontent amongst some party supporters and former candidates who point out that Farage had insisted until as late as last week that he would field candidates in all 600 constituencies.
Commenters to the Twitter row begged the MEPs not to argue publicly.
“Please keep this spat out of the public eye, you are undoing lots of the good work you both have done, it’s already being reported in the papers!” tweeted campaign coordinator Jon Evans.