Brexit Party MEP denies Nigel Farage ‘bottled it’ by standing down candidates

Brexit Party MEP Alex Phillips denied that Nigel Farage has 'bottled it'. Picture: BBC

Brexit Party MEP Alex Phillips denied that Nigel Farage has 'bottled it'. Picture: BBC - Credit: BBC

A Brexit Party MEP who previously complained about being disenfranchised after Nigel Farage withdrew 317 candidates has now said that standing them down was the party's way of 'standing our ground'.

Alex Phillips, Brexiteer MEP for the South East, responded to the accusation that her leader had "bottled it" and bowed to rightwing pressure to withdraw candidates.

"Your party leader bottled it, and in the process disenfranchised you," was the charge laid at Phillips' feet by Radio Five Live's Emma Barnett.

Farage withdrew 317 candidates last month after clamour grew in the Brexiteer press over whether or not his party would split the rightwing vote.

MORE: 'STAND DOWN, NIGEL!': Right-wing newspaper in front-page Brexit panicAt the time, Phillips said: "I have been disenfranchised by my own party" and anounced that she would not be voting - leading to an unseemly spat on Twitter with fellow Brexit Party MEP Lance Forman.

MORE: Brexit Party MEPs in Twitter row over whether or not to voteBut Phillips now claims she is Farage's "closest ally" and said the pressure on the party from the press had been too much to ignore.

"What, from the Daily Mail? Couldn't you have handled it?" asked Barnett.

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Phillips said the Mail's efforts - which included publishing candidates' email addresses was an "egregious" gesture that amounted to encouraging people to "harangue and harass".

She added that standing all 650 candidates would have risked letting a Remain coalition form.

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"Standing our ground is, in some respects, having to swallow the sad fact that we have had to step back," she said.

Asked whether she now trusts Farage, Phillips said: "I'm Nigel's closest ally so I'm hardly going to turn round and say I don't trust him."

She said she would not be voting and added: "I think there will be people up and down the country in the same position as me."

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