Nigel Farage has ruled out standing in the upcoming British general election, claiming his position as an MEP gave him a better chance to influence Brexit.
The former Ukip leader said he would be able to use his profile in European politics to put “real pressure” on MEPs to back a “sensible deal” for the UK. But he acknowledged that the thought of standing had been “tempting” – particularly given former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell’s decision to stand down in Clacton.
Mr Farage used an article in the Daily Telegraph to claim the Essex seat would have given him an “easy win” if he had stood. Mr Farage, who has failed seven times to win a seat at Westminster, said a victory in the snap election would have been a “vindication” for him – but he had come to the conclusion that he would have more influence in Strasbourg and Brussels.
He said Clacton was “now Carswell-free, and perhaps the number one Eurosceptic constituency in the country by demographics”. “It would be a very easy win and for me, a personal vindication to get into the House of Commons after all these years of standing in elections,” he said.
But he added: “If I compare the platform I have in Strasbourg to being a backbench MP, there is frankly no comparison. “The Brexit negotiations will take place in Brussels and the European Parliament will not only have a large impact on them, but ultimately will have the right of veto any deal at the end of the two-year process.
“I believe I can use my profile in European politics to put real pressure on MEPs to vote for a sensible deal with the UK.” He pointed out that there was a set of European elections just weeks after the UK is due to leave.
“The MEPs across the continent who are attempting to be re-elected need to feel the heat and the threat of losing their seats if they don’t back a sensible deal,” he said. Mr Farage promised to “help and support” Ukip leader Paul Nuttall, who he had earlier said faced “six weeks to prove himself” in the job.
Mr Nuttall has faced criticism over his leadership in the face of damaging internal battles in the Eurosceptic party and his own disastrous by-election bid in Stoke-on-Trent.