Annunziata Rees-Mogg, John Longworth, Lucy Harris and Lance Forman have unimpeachable Brexit credentials. Each has stuck their neck out time and again to help get their country out of the EU – not least by taking the bold leap to join the Brexit Party, and becoming MEPs via that party’s victory in the EU elections earlier this year.
Rees-Mogg was memorably the star of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party launch, when she delivered a barn-storming speech as the first candidate of the new venture (a stance she discussed with me in a Moggcast special back in August). Longworth sacrificed his job as Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce when he opted to stand by his beliefs and support Leave in the EU referendum. Harris rose to prominence after the referendum when she spoke up for Leavers who were being demonised and derided for their views, and founded the part-campaign part-social club Leavers of Britain. Forman, a successful businessman and fourth-generation salmon smoker, was an ardent backer of Vote Leave and has endured anti-semitic abuse and even a swastika being daubed on his business premises since becoming a Brexit Party candidate.
So these are four serious, dedicated Leavers – and today they have stuck their necks out once more for their cause, by resigning the Brexit Party whip and urging Leave supporters everywhere to vote Conservative. Here are their respective comments about why they have made that decision:
Annunziata Rees-Mogg: “We need a strong Leave-supporting government to deliver the Brexit 17.4 million voted for. The Conservatives are the only option for Brexit supporters and democrats alike.”
John Longworth: “For those who want Brexit, Boris Johnson’s deal is the only option available, Labour does not have a plan.”
Lance Forman: “We cannot allow the vote to be split, allowing a Marxist and antisemitic party to enter into 10 Downing Street, that is why at this stage, I must support the Conservative Party.”
Lucy Harris: “The Brexit Party has played an essential role in getting us to a point where Brexit can actually happen, now it’s time to get Brexit done.”
Farage’s response is that the four “don’t understand” the Brexit Party’s strategy, but this doesn’t really wash. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to keep their qualms to themselves, enjoy a quiet life as MEPs and stick to the Farage position. That they have weighed the polling, looked at the facts on the ground and considered Farage’s own message that there is a risk of Brexit Party votes inadvertently helping Remainer MPs to retain seats in Parliament, and have come to this conclusion suggests they very much do understand the situation.
It’s to their credit that the attachment to principle that brought them to the Brexit Party in the first place has held firm and leads them to advocating voting Conservative now. I hope that any voters wavering between the Brexit Party and the Conservatives will heed their message: it could barely be more important.